Shoppers at the Duncan Farmers’ Market will be able to pick up local spirits along with their fresh vegetables following a decision by Duncan City council on Monday. Council approved a policy that will allow wineries, breweries and distilleries that already have onsite store endorsements to sell their products – for off-site consumption – at the market on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The policy was made possible by changes to provincial legislation that allow farmers markets to let wineries, breweries and distilleries sell their wares, subject to local government approval.
With a host of vineyards in the Cowichan Valley, it made sense to council to make the products available at the weekly Farmers’ Market, Mayor Phil Kent said.
"The Cowichan Valley draws a number of tourists to the area with its wineries and cideries," he related. "By hosting these vendors in a market atmosphere, it will further enhance the vibrancy of the downtown and bring more tourists to the downtown core. The farmers’ markets across B.C. have been wanting this legislation for some time and council is pleased that the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch has approved this initiative in time for the summer season."
The new policy is largely similar to the directive issued by the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch, although the city has capped the number of liquor vendors allowed at the Farmers Market at one time at seven. Market organizers have said there is the potential for up to 18 vendors.
Council plans to monitor the program over the remainder of the summer and may revisit it in the future.
Duncan Farmers’ Market President Mickey Smith vowed that the change will not impact the family feel of the market.
"While we’re honoured to support the region’s grape growers, as we do other farmers, we want to assure market shoppers that the wholesome family atmosphere of our market will not change," Smith said.
The local liquor inspector requires that liquor vendors be located together in a specific area, and sampling will fall under strict BCLCB guidelines. Liquor sales at the Duncan market will take place in the garden of the Green Door building on Ingram Street.
"The garden of the Green Door is the perfect area in our market to locate the new wine, beer and liquor vendors." Smith said.
The market is now inviting wine makers, craft breweries and local distillers to take part in the market. Sales are scheduled to begin on July 19.