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British Columbia’s Grocery Stores to Sell Wine, Beer

A relaxation of British Columbia’s liquor laws will not apply to convenience stores.
March 11, 2014

​VICTORIA – Beginning next year, British Columbia grocery stores will be allowed to sell beer, wine and liquor, the Times-Colonist reports.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton announced the change last week as she introduced amendments to the province’s liquor laws. The law would establish a “store-within-a-store” to sell alcohol through separate cashiers within a grocery store. Anton said the law would enhance convenience while providing an economic boost to retailers.

Opposing the change is the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. (CARBC), which has argued for minimum pricing to reflect the strength of a drink, so that more potent beers cost more than their light ABV counterparts. “It’s possible the net effect of these policies will be increased convenience and affordability, but also less harm if they put this package together properly,” said Tim Stockwell, director for CARBC.

Under the proposed changes, grocery stores will be able to buy a liquor license and sell beer, wine and liquor through separate cashiers located at a “store-within-a-store.” The government has yet to define a “grocery store,” but it made clear that convenience stores will not qualify.

The government plans to launch the new store model in 2015.