The public will have a say in whether liquor sales should be allowed in grocery stores in North Cowichan.
Council voted 5-2 to give the first two readings to a new bylaw prohibiting liquor sales in local grocery stores at its meeting on April 5, which means a mandatory public hearing on the issue must be held before councillors give final consideration to the bylaw.
The date and time of the public hearing has yet to be scheduled.
Council had already decided to ban liquor sales in local grocery stores at a meeting in December, but now must follow the bylaw process to make it legal.
There are only two grocery stores in North Cowichan that currently fit the new provincial regulations to sell liquor, the 49th Parallel Store in Chemainus and the Thrifty Foods store at Beverly Corners.
They meet the criteria of being at least 10,000 sq. ft. and have at least 70 per cent of their revenues from food sales.
But a staff report indicated that the 49th Parallel Store has no interest in selling liquor, and Thrifty Foods has provided no response to queries from North Cowichan on the issue.
“This bylaw impacts very few businesses in the community, and I believe this process is a big waste of our staff’s time,” said Coun. Maeve Maguire, who opposed the bylaw, along with Coun. Tom Walker.