CONSISTENT with support voiced by three-quarters of respondents during the just-concluded Liquor Policy Review, Parliamentary Secretary John Yap is endorsing liquor sales in grocery stores.
Yap announced on Thursdday that his final report recommends government move forward on developing and implementing a retail model that meets consumer demands for greater accessibility, while maintaining B.C.’s high standards for protecting health and public safety.
In doing this, B.C. should maintain the current cap on the total number of retail outlets in the province. In addition, he recommends it be required that liquor be separate from grocery products, ensuring continued restricted access to alcohol for minors. Both of these recommendations reflect the views of health and safety advocates that Yap heard during his review.
To provide public and private liquor stores with time to adjust to these changes, Yap recommends that the B.C. government adopt a phased-in approach to the new retail model.
As the Province continues to examine retail models in other jurisdictions that permit liquor sales in grocery stores, Yap will carry on in his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform. He will support Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton in working to ensure that any new legislation, regulations and policies that are developed meet the spirit of his intentions and what he learned from his consultations.
Yap’s final report was delivered to Anton on November 25 as per his terms of reference. Government has said from the beginning the report will be released publicly and remains committed to doing so. While some individual recommendations are expected to be released over the coming weeks, as there is some ongoing policy work that still needs to be completed, it is anticipated the entire report will be released early in the new year once cabinet has the opportunity to fully consider it.
The report puts forward more than 70 recommendations on modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws, focused on enhancing convenience and growing B.C.’s economy, while ensuring public health and safety.
Yap said: “During the B.C. Liquor Policy Review, I heard loud and clear that today’s retail model has not kept pace with consumer expectations. British Columbians lead busy lives and my final report makes several recommendations that will bring greater convenience to citizens, including moving to a model that will allow shoppers to pick up a bottle of wine or six-pack with their groceries.
“I also feel it is critical that government maintain the current cap on the number of retail outlets in the province. By doing this, and by keeping liquor separate from grocery products, we can increase convenience without any increased risk to the health or public safety of British Columbians.”