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Vancouver councillor pushes for wine on grocery store shelves

Mike Klassen: "We're trying to tamp down that no-fun city moniker."
ABC Vancouver Coun. Mike Klassen wants to allow consumers to be able to pay for a bottle of wine in a grocery store at the same time as purchasing groceries.

An ABC Vancouver councillor is pushing for the city to amend its bylaws to allow wine to be sold on grocery store shelves — a move that is already a reality in Kamloops, Prince George, Coquitlam and several other B.C. municipalities.

Mike Klassen will introduce a motion to council Tuesday that requests city staff review guidelines for wine sales in Vancouver grocery stores. The current bylaw only allows wine to be sold in a separate section of a grocery store from a separate cashier.

Klassen said he knows of only one grocery store in Vancouver — Whole Foods at 8th and Cambie streets — that operates a “store-within-a-store model.” He’s advocating for a new model that allows a consumer to pay for a bottle of wine at the same time that a cashier is ringing through groceries.

“Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia, and we have probably the largest tourist population,” Klassen told Glacier Media Monday. “This is the place we want to be showcasing local British Columbia VQA wines. It's about time Vancouver got on a board, and I think that's what people are looking for.”

In 2015, the B.C. government changed the Liquor Control and Licensing Board regulations to allow for the sale of liquor in grocery stores under one of two models: wine-on-shelf or store-within-a-store.

'No-fun city moniker'

In April 2018, the-then Vision Vancouver-led council approved zoning bylaw amendments to permit the store-within-in-a store model. Klassen said that model prevented the “one-stop shopping experience” for consumers.

“We're trying to tamp down that no-fun city moniker,” he said of ABC Vancouver’s broader agenda, which supports responsible use of alcohol in parks and plazas.

“We want to give Vancouverites a few more choices to have fun and socialize with their friends in the community. And I think this [wine-on-shelf model] sort of goes along with those decisions, as well.”

In 2015, Klassen was hired as executive director of the BC Wine Appellation Task Group, and undertook a comprehensive industry-wide consultation involving hundreds of stakeholders to reform regulations governing wine-making in the province.

“I haven't done that since 2016, and have no pecuniary interest in any wine at all,” he said, when asked whether his motion presented a conflict of interest. “But I do know a little bit about the industry, know a number of the players and I’m very supportive of this local industry.”

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