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Walsh blasts MLAs, offers wine 'solution'

June 21, 2016 1:50 P.M.
Coun. Denis Walsh (centre) at council meeting. (File photo)

The B.C. Liberal government has caused unnecessary turmoil for municipal governments with its “inept and misguided” new policies allowing sale of wine in some grocery stores, says Coun. Denis Walsh.

And he wants apologies from MLAs Todd Stone and Terry Lake for comments they’ve made about council’s handling of an application by a local food store to sell wine.

He said today in a press release he continues to oppose an application for a variance allowing Kamloops Save-On-Foods to sell VQA wines because the government’s “confusion and lack of clear vision” has “botched” what should have been a simple transfer of a VQA licence from one permit holder to another.

But Walsh said he thinks he sees a compromise solution.

MLAs Todd Stone and Terry Lake “have shown tremendous disrespect for local government officials with their public comments and heavy-handed pressure tactics,” Walsh said.

He said Stone and Lake have each publicly labeled an earlier council decision on the matter as “ridiculous,” statements he says are “offensive” and warrant apologies.

Walsh said he might support the variance if liquor rules changes were more clearly articulated by the province and if Save-On were to be required to sell VQA wines in a store-within-a-store, not in the grocery aisles as planned.

According to Walsh, this goes against the government’s own liquor policy, which states “Government should continue to restrict the total number of retail outlets and require separation of grocery products and liquor. This reflects the views of health and safety advocates and the acknowledged safety benefits of restricting minor’s access to liquor.”

He said he hopes Kamloops Council will turn down the variance until Save-On goes for the store-within-a-store concept. Walsh added the store has indicated it has not done so only because government does not require it.

There is no standardization of grocery store wine sales built into the province's current methods, Walsh said, and this creates an unlevel playing field and raises the "very real possibility" of international trade challenges.

“With so many conflicting messages coming from the government’s own words and strong opposition from varied local stakeholders, it’s hard to believe any municipal government could allow this initiative to go ahead as it currently sits," Walsh said.

"These new liquor policies seem to be seriously flawed and there is an overall lack of public vision for liquor retailing in this province that needs to be addressed.” 

Bob Gamble says:
June 21, 2016 09:29pm

Thank you Mr. Walsh for a well thought out piece. I couldn’t agree more spirits belong in a confined space. Cigarettes are now in the closet. Slot machines are in casinos.

I was particularly astounded the Minister of Health, Mr. Lake would be promoting the consummation of alcohol. He of all people should know the social costs of drinking. Seems he was having a Donald Trump moment.

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kamloopsian says:
June 21, 2016 07:59pm

Really Denis???
Please give it up on trying to save face & your council seat on this horrible stance you, Donavan Cavers & Pat Wallace have made on holding back this city. Trying to pass the blame onto the provincial governments policy is NOT going to gain you any votes with the locals. I think Todd Stone & Terry Lake's comments about councils "no vote' being ridiculous was what the majority of Kamloops residents were thinking & trying to say but you just wanted us to adopt your outdated views on BC VQA wine being made available in grocery stores. In all fairness I think Mr Stone & Lake listened to the residents of their home town & had Kamloops best interest in mind before making the statements they did.
I'm guessing your next press release/editorial will be slamming the local chamber of commerce, the BC wine institute & the nearly 1500 residents on the petition for their support & comments about council making the wrong decision in turning down this wine variance.
I probably wouldn't be waiting by your phone for that apology from the MLA's. At least they represented Kamloops!!!

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Pierre Filisetti says:
June 21, 2016 06:45pm

The dialogue from Mr. Walsh is very good. He is a bright light in the gloom of local politics.

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Grouchy 1 says:
June 21, 2016 04:44pm

Walsh needs to grow up, and do some research. If there was ever any doubt that he lives way back in the dark ages, this article has removed it. I have been in the SaveOn foods that are selling wine, and not one of them has just stuffed the wine onto the regular shelves like the groceries. The wine sections are exactly like " stores within stores ". As much as I do not support our MLAs, they most certainly do not owe Walsh, or council any apologies, they merely stated what is true.

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