Dave Brimacombe and Wayward Distillery staff members pictured with mountains of ethanol and sanitizer. Photo supplied

Dave Brimacombe and Wayward Distillery staff members pictured with mountains of ethanol and sanitizer. Photo supplied

B.C. distillery stuck with a warehouse full of sanitizer

Courtenay’s Wayward Distillery donated about $75,000 worth, now can’t sell enough to cover expenses

A B.C. distillery owner spent nearly $600,000 on ethanol, one of the ingredients he uses to make hand sanitizer, which he distributed free of charge during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the ethanol is sitting untouched in storage.

Gord Johns, the MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding on Vancouver Island, blames the federal government for flooding the market with sanitizer purchased from other countries, which has driven down the price.

RELATED: MPs urge support for small-scale distilleries after feds give sanitizer contracts to big firms

RELATED: Vancouver Island distilleries help combat COVID-19 with hand sanitizer

He said Dave Brimacombe, owner of Courtenay’s Wayward Distillery, had donated about $75,000 worth of sanitizer, then started selling it at cost to cover expenses. As sales increased, he did not qualify for the federal wage subsidy or the rent program because it is revenue measured.

“His profit dropped massively, but his revenue went up, so therefore he’s getting no government support,” Johns said. “This guy is getting kicked while he’s down.”

Johns spoke about Brimacombe’s plight during Question Period in the House of Commons. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said she would be pleased to be in touch with Brimacombe to learn more about his situation. She also said government has a range of programs to support businesses, such as wage subsidy and rent support.

Brimacombe said he can either stop selling sanitizer to collect the wage subsidy, or keep selling at a loss.

“I’m sitting on sanitizer which I manufactured and paid for months ago,” he said. “I’m selling inventory at a loss so that I can have cash flow required to survive. Every gallon I send out the door is a loss to the company.

“As far as we know, we were the first on this side of the country to be donating hand sanitizer,” he added.

“The prime minister said, ‘We need hand sanitizer.’ One of the first we donated to was the Victoria Police Department. We saw the need, and we pivoted hard. We were putting out 15 to 20,000 litres a week. I did five years worth of production in a month.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Katie Hamilton is one of three Victoria residents receiving a $10,000 podcast production grant from Telus Storyhive. Her podcast, Her Love of Sport, will take listeners through stories from women in the sports industry. (Courtesy of Katie Hamilton)
Three local podcasts coming to Victoria following Telus Storyhive grants

Victoria podcasts chosen out of 700 applications to receive $10,000

Staff celebrate the opening of the Vancouver Island Cancer Centre adjacent to Royal Jubilee Hospital in March 2001. (Photo provided by Provincial Health Services Authority)
Victoria cancer centre marks two decades of saving lives

BC Cancer – Victoria is B.C.’s second largest cancer centre

Wild Wise Sooke is urging the public to be bear aware. (Photo by Brian Rundle)
Wild Wise Sooke reminds public to be aware of bears

Residents asked to be mindful of their garbage habits, not to draw in wildlife

“Racing Classics” by John Horton depicts sailboats near Trial Island off the coast of Oak Bay. The painting will be featured in his <em>Maritime Impressions</em> exhibit at the Winchester Gallery until April 14.
Greater Victoria galleries beckon spring with vibrant, whimsical nature scenes

At The Galleries: look at what’s on display this month

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Most Read