Manitoba bill would widen alcohol sales, make booze buying more convenient

The Charleswood Beer Market has a lot of variety when it comes to beer, but manager Rick Green said customers often ask him about other options they aren’t allowed to sell.

“Especially wine. People want to see wine, for sure,” he said.

Green would like to expand his inventory. If he is allowed to sell beer, he thinks he should be able to sell other types of alcoholic beverages,

New legislation introduced by the province means Green might be able to soon.

It would allow private beer vendors and wine stores to sell different types of alcohol. If the bill passes, beer stores could stock wine and hard alcohol, and wine stores could bring in beer and hard liquor, if they so choose.

There would be no changes to government-owned liquor marts or duty free outlets.

“Really, it means in Winnipeg, you’re going to have 70 more locations to buy spirits, to buy wine, to buy beer,” said Liquor and Lotteries Minister Scott Fielding.

Hit hard by the pandemic, Manitoba Hotel Association President Scott Jocelyn said some vendors will jump at the chance to add wine and spirits.

“We continue to need new opportunities like the one announced today,” Jocelyn said.

The legislation only applies to current licensed businesses, but the bill does allow for a five-year pilot project, which could see the government experiment with private liquor sales in places like grocery and convenience stores, and campgrounds.

“Would it be more convenient for Manitobans to be able to pick up maybe a six-pack when you’re camping or something at the camp office?” said Fielding.

Meanwhile, Green said wine and spirits would be favourable for his bottom line, but he says he would have to boost security measures if he introduced hard stuff with his suds.

“The theft issue, the safety of staff and other customers” Green explained.

The legislation isn’t expected to pass until the fall.