Another independent Saanich business is up in arms over Liquor Distribution Branch practises.
Sales have slowed at Saanich’s Hillside Liquor Store since a new B.C. Liquor Store recently opened in a renovated space across Shelbourne Street at Hillside Centre shopping mall, well within a kilometre of Hillside Liquor Store.
Manager Stacey Brennan spoke on behalf of the 10-year-old Hillside Liquor Store’s ownership group about concerns with the Liquor Distribution Branch’s ability and decision to open a new store within a kilometre of their own.
“As a private liquor store we cannot by law open a store within one kilometre of another private or government store,” Brennan said. “That government liquor stores are allowed to do exactly that is an unfair business practise and it’s contrary to the promise the Liberal government made about 12 years ago that they would not be opening any more government liquor stores.”
Hillside Centre falls on the Victoria side of the North Dairy Road border, while Hillside Liquor Store is in Saanich.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps agrees the zoning policy is flawed and needs to be corrected. However, she also believes the market will bear it out, as she was one of the Victoria councillors who voted in favour of rezoning to approve the BCL store in January of 2014.
“The one kilometre rule should be even both ways and private stores shouldn’t be restricted to being a smaller space than a public store,” Helps said.
With a combined 13 government and private liquor stores already within a three-kilometre radius of Hillside Centre there was no need to spend taxpayers’ money to open another store, Brennan added. She also cited that the LDB is advertising false information claiming the government stores are less expensive than the private stores.
Hillside Liquor Store sells its products at the same price, even going as far to match special sales.
“Stores are chosen based on customer demand, considering things like location, population density and whether it is feasible in the community, “ said LDB spokesperson Tarina Palmer in a statement.
The new store is “essentially” the relocated Esquimalt store which recently closed and is also the only B.C. Liquor Store to open on Vancouver Island in the past two years.
“After the Esquimalt store was given notice that it would no longer be able to occupy the space it was leasing, we began looking at other options for serving the greater community,” Palmer’s statement said.
Last year Hillside Liquor Store presented a petition to Victoria council with more than 3,000 signatures opposing the new government liquor store.
“I don’t feel that we had any impact whatsoever at the rezoninghearing even though there were neighbour concerns,” Brennan said.
“It appeared the decision had already been made.”