Valley grocery stores shut out of liquor sales

The provincial government’s grand announcement that grocery stores are going to be allowed to sell alcohol seems kind of silly now with the revelation that it will only be allowed if the store in question is more than one kilometre away from an existing liquor outlet.

It was hard to see much point in the rule change anyway, as it seems unlikely that there were that many people clamouring for more places to buy alcohol.

In our Cowichan Valley communities there is a more than adequate slate of liquor stores, public and private, where folks can get pretty much any brand and type of spirit, beer, wine or other alcoholic beverage they desire. That’s to say nothing of the small wine shops at most of the vineyards that sell their wares directly to the consumer.

There was a bit of the feeling of “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” Now, it seems even more pointless.

A quick look at the major grocery stores in the Cowichan Valley reveals that none of them are the required one kilometre from the nearest liquor outlet.

This is because, quite naturally, liquor stores have located near grocery stores for years, in response to customer demand.

The two types of businesses have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship.

People can go to the grocery store, then make a quick stop at the liquor store for their wine or beer or port or vodka.

There are some places that may be able to take advantage of the new rules, but from Mill Bay to Duncan, Lake Cowichan to Chemainus we can’t think of any in our area.

No doubt the 1 kilometre rule is because private liquor store owners would have been up in arms if they were suddenly losing business to big grocery chains. One can envision a scenario where some liquor stores might have been out of business.

It’s a good rule. Putting businesses out of business by provincial legislation isn’t usually desirable.

Perhaps some of the liquor stores will, in the future, choose to partner with a grocery chain, building on their already mutually beneficial proximity.

That choice is up to them. For now, it’s much ado about nothing.

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