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Will BC follow Ontario’s lead on liquor licensing for convenience stores, corner stores and small grocers? Probably not. In December 2023, Premier Doug Ford announced that by 2026, the sale of beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink cocktails will be allowed in convenience stores and grocery stores in that province.
As reported by Global News, Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth said that the BC government won’t match Ontario’s plan, saying, “We have a very successful system in place — it’s a public system and private system that works well together — so we’re not looking at making any changes along the lines that Ontario has”.
Source: “B.C. won’t follow Ontario’s footsteps to bring booze into convenience stores”, Global News, Dec 14, 2023.
Currently, BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch allows wine to be sold in grocery stores, but the liquor licenses are owned by a few national big box chain stores and the final say is with municipalities. City of Vancouver, for example, currently does not allow wine to be sold by grocers, though the City of Vancouver recently announced that wine will hit grocery store shelves in the near future. This change to Vancouver’s liquor licensing rules does not mean that you’ll be able to buy wine at your local mom ‘n pop grocer or convenience store. Only those big box grocers with a valid provincial wine-on-shelf license will be eligible.
Overview of Changes in Ontario Liquor Licensing
Currently, approximately 450 grocery stores and big box stores are allowed to sell cider and beer. 225 of those stores also sell wine.
Starting Jan 1, 2026, all grocery stores and big box stores will be permitted to sell beer, wine, ciders, coolers, seltzers and other low-alcohol ready-to-drink beverages.
Source: “Alcohol sales in retail stores”, Ontario.ca website.
Questions About Liquor Licensing in BC? Thrive Has Answers!
Thrive Liquor and Cannabis Advisors are BC liquor licensing experts. Whether you’re just starting out and need help with a BC liquor license application or would like to find ways to optimize your operation for increased profit, we can help!