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In April 2023, the City of Vancouver unanimously passed a motion that would allow BC wine on grocery store shelves. Councillor Mike Klassen told City News, “We want to be like other places. We want to catch up with other municipalities who do this and other jurisdictions. I think Vancouver is ready for it”. If zoning and development bylaw recommendations are approved, the proposed changes will go to a public hearing.
Final approval doesn’t mean you’ll be able to buy a bottle of wine from your local mom ‘n pop grocer, though. The BC government approved liquor-store-within-grocery-store, wine-in-store and wine-on-shelf models back in February 2015, but there were a few restrictions that put small grocers out of the running for a wine license. Only stores that were 10,000 square feet or more were eligible to apply to be a part of the auction for wine licenses at the time. The majority of auctioned licenses were awarded to just two national chains: Save On Foods and Real Canadian Superstore. The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is not issuing new wine-on-shelf licenses.
Currently, 39 grocery stores in Vancouver that are owned by the chains qualify for a wine-on-shelf license. The chains would have to “relocate” existing liquor licenses to the city. This could include wine licenses and License Retail Store Licenses( LRS). All LRS licenses have a provincial 1km distancing buffer on them and this provincial rule has not changed. All grocery outlets would be required to follow all provincial legislation.
Several Lower Mainland municipalities already sell wine, cider, mead and sake off-the-shelf, but in 2018, the COV rejected the wine-on-shelves model in favour of the store-within-a-store model.
BC Liquor Consultants that Work with You and For You!
Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors provides liquor consulting services to BC private liquor stores and wine stores. When you need a liquor licensing expert you can count on, Thrive has your back. Ask us about liquor license applications, liquor retail operations and strategic planning.