View Royal says ‘no’ to grocery store liquor sales

Zoning decision combined with tightening of rules for drug paraphernalia retailing

The ability to sell B.C. wines, beer and other liquor in grocery stores in View Royal has moved a step closer to being effectively nullified.

Following a very quiet public hearing Tuesday, council gave third reading to a proposed zoning bylaw amendment that would prevent the sale of spirits and wine in grocery stores and supermarkets. It is expected to be adopted within the next month.

The amendment also states that no retail store may be licensed to sell beer, wine and liquor if there is an established retailer within 320 metres. Moves made by the provincial government in the past year have been aimed at loosening liquor regulations and allowing grocery retailers to sell wine and spirits.

Thrifty Foods in Admiral’s Walk, the largest current grocery store in the township, is the main retailer affected by the change.

Mayor David Screech said later that the amended bylaw wording was prompted when the owners of the Four Mile House liquor store, which opened in Admiral’s Walk in June; and the Cascadia liquor store, to be opened in the Eagle Creek Village – voiced concerns over the potential for the provincial change to affect their business.

“Their concern, when they’re making an investment in a store like that … was being that the province controls (licensing) completely, down the road if the province decides to expand that (further), what protection would they have?” Screech said. “Private business people are paying a considerable amount for their business licences.”

Coun. Ron Mattson cast the lone dissenting vote in a 4-1 decision on the bylaw amendment. Among other things, he worried that due process wasn’t followed in the matter.

“Nobody from council or staff contacted Thrifty’s (about the proposed change),” he said after the meeting. “So it came as a surprise to them and they didn’t have an opportunity to voice their concerns. And I don’t think it’s fair to the residents of View Royal who would lose the option of purchasing wine at their local Thrifty Foods.”

Mattson wondered aloud whether the province might one day enact more specific liquor retailing legislation that can’t be overridden by municipalities.

Changes to the zoning bylaw relating to drug paraphernalia sales, an amendment combined with the liquor sales proposal for legislative purposes, were moved forward at the same time.

The wording change for that area of businesses would see the proverbial “bong shops” banned from locating within 500 metres of schools, daycares or care homes, churches, parks and other public areas. Retailers would also have to ensure that activities associated with the use of their products are not visible from the exterior of the building, and to not sell to anyone under 19, unless licensed as a pharmacy in B.C.

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