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Wine, cider, mead or sake with your groceries? Coquitlam eyes liquor sales at new Save On Foods

A public hearing is set for May 30 after Coquitlam city council gave first bylaw reading to allow liquor sales at the new Save on Foods on Lougheed Highway.
wine sales
A public hearing will be held May 30 to discuss potential liquor sales at the new Save On Foods in Coquitlam.

Wine, including cider, mead and sake, is set to be on the shelves of the new Save On Foods store in Coquitlam.

But before the company opens its doors to the renovated building in Sunwood Square, the public will have a chance to comment on the rezoning bid for liquor sales.

On Monday (May 2), council OK’d first bylaw reading to move the site-specific application to the public hearing on May 30.

If approved, Save On Foods plans to transfer its existing Special Wine Store license — issued by the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch — from its West Kelowna grocery store. Currently, there’s an indefinite freeze by the provincial government that prevents new Special Wine Store bids.

In his report to council, Andrew Merrill, Coquitlam’s director of development services, said the wine section proposed for the new Coquitlam store would cover 1,650 sq. ft. of the 72,825 sq. ft. building.

Coquitlam RCMP, as well as the city’s transportation, economic development and business licensing divisions, had no concerns about wine being sold in the grocery outlet, located at 100-3025 Lougheed Hwy.

Merrill also told council the site-specific bid is being tested as a pilot program.

Asked about the liquor store at the Burquitlam Safeway, Merrill said it’s a separate, stand-alone business; by comparison, the Save On Foods proposal is to integrate its wine section into grocery shopping.

As for competition from nearby liquor retailers such as Jak’s, Don Luymes, Coquitlam’s general manager of planning and development, told council he shops at a Save On Foods in Metro Vancouver with a liquor section, and it also has a liquor store beside it that's “thriving.”

In a letter to the city last December, Save On Foods director Steve Moriarty wrote, in part, that his company's "goal is to provide our customers and the communities we serve with a modern shopping experience that meets and exceeds all of their needs."

He added, "With an industry-leading selection of quality local products to suit our customers' tastes, retailing local BC wine products is a natural and logical extension of our existing philosophy and Buy Local platform."

• To have your say at the public hearing, register at The meeting on Monday, May 30 starts at 7 p.m.