Surrey wants to know how liquor laws will affect city

SURREY – Surrey council wants to know what the B.C. Liquor Policy Review changes will mean for the city.


During Monday’s council meeting, Watts asked staff to bring a report forward about how liquor store changes will affect Surrey, and asked for that information at the next police committee meeting.


"First and foremost, I think that it’s important that council is brought up to date with the new regulations," said Mayor Dianne Watts. "We have policies in place in terms of locations of liquor stores and the province has put some criteria in as well. I want to make sure it aligns with our policies. The last thing we want to do is have contradicting policies."


The B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report recommended that the province should allow liquor sales in grocery stores.


The report said allowing liquor to be sold in grocery stores drew more public interest and comment than any other topic examined in the review.


Watts also has questions about how a grocery store is defined under the new regulations.


"Are we talking large chains, are we talking small-chain grocery stores? The Costcos and Safeways of the world, I don’t think there’s any issue whatsoever. If the definition stipulates it can be a corner grocery store, then that’s going to be problematic," Watts said.


When the city developed its Crime Reduction Strategy, Watts said it looked at best practices in the United Kingdom. She said the city learned the U.K. saw problems after allowing liquor to be sold in corner stores.


"That was one of the things that they said was very, very problematic – selling alcohol from corner stores. If they could reverse that, they would, because the problems around underage drinking, selling to underage kids, drunkenness on the streets, all of those things unfolded from allowing liquor to be sold in corner stores."

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