British Columbia is tip-toeing closer to allowing alcohol sales in grocery stores, and as part of the process, the government has announced an upcoming lottery for liquor stores to determine who gets to move where and when.
Liquor stores, whether private or B.C., wishing to relocate, whether to new communities or into existing grocery stores, will be given from February 27 to March 27 to apply for relocation, explains the Ministry of Justice.
All the applications will be pooled and placed in a lottery for a random draw to determine the stores’ position in a queue for moving.
The Ministry of Justice explains the nuances of the lottery:
The lottery system is set up to ensure fairness – each applicant will be given an equal chance at qualifying to relocate, understanding that the one kilometre rule will continue to play a large role in the assessment and approval of applications. If more than one store wants to relocate its licence within the same one kilometre radius, the first applicant chosen is given priority.
The reason there is a need for stores to move locations and licences is because of what is known as the “one kilometre rule.” This rule means new liquor retailers within a one kilometre radius of existing public or private liquor stores are not permitted, in order to prevent over-saturation of the market. However, stores adjoining a grocery store can “move in” by knocking down a wall in order to become a “store-in-store” operation.
Confused? There have definitely been a lot of fine points to keep up with regarding this change in law over the past few months. The Ministry of Justice thoughtfully provided some “quick facts” about the lottery and the changing laws, which may be helpful:
The bottom line is, British Columbians will be able to purchase liquor at some grocery stores as soon as April 1. The where part is what remains to be determined.