Maple Ridge has given final approval to a bylaw change banning the sale of booze in grocery stores located within a kilometre of an existing alcohol outlet.
Council passed the bylaw in a 5-2 vote Tuesday following a jam-packed public hearing the week before, when people pleaded with council for some protection from the potential effects of liquor sales taking place in grocery stores.
Coun. Craig Speirs voted in favour of the bylaw change.
“I didn’t want to lose all those jobs,” said Speirs who used to work in a government liquor store.
“They’re really good jobs and they exist in every community.”
Pitt Meadows’ has already passed such a bylaw earlier this year.
While the bylaw change effectively prohibits liquor sales in the existing grocery stores in Maple Ridge, Speirs said council could always allow exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Last year, Maple Ridge tried to pass another bylaw that would have required every grocery store to seek council permission if it wanted to sell liquor.
That attempt failed and in the interim, with no bylaw in place, a permit was granted to Save-On Foods in Valley Fair Mall to sell high-quality B.C. wines.
Other stores, however, won’t have that option with the bylaw now in place.
A letter to Maple Ridge council from the Alliance of Beverage Licencees said that in areas where wine is sold in grocery stores, up to 70 per cent of all wine sales take place in them.
Mayor Nicole Read, along with Coun. Tyler Shymkiw, voted against the bylaw change. She did so because she received feedback from the public that they liked the convenience of being able to buy B.C. wines in the grocery store.
“We are a young community with busy families.”
But, she added, it’s important for Maple Ridge to watch for any other future changes in provincial liquor laws.
Yvan Charette, who runs the Haney Hotel and Pub and liquor store, was happy that the bylaw passed, but he said the mayor and Shymkiw are not supporting small businesses by voting against the bylaw.
“I think sometimes you have to fight for the people in the community.”
He says the provincial law could be challenged, which could result in all types of liquor being sold in grocery stores.