Keep liquor branch, says Parksville council

City sees advantages to keeping liquor distribution the way it is

Parksville city council will ask the provincial government not to privatize the Liquor Distribution Branch distribution system.

In response to a letter from Darryl Walker president of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) which represents LDB employees, council went with the staff recommendation to endorse a resolution to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in support a moratorium on privatizing.

“I see this as a real detriment to our tourism industry,” said councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson, who added that the industry has been hit with a lot of new regulation and hard times in recent years.

“On February 21, 2012, the government announced its intentions to privatize the province’s public liquor distribution system and sell off its warehouses,” wrote Walker. “This decision was made without any consultation with workers, bar/restaurant owners and other licensees, communities or the public.”

Aside from concern for the employees they represent, Walker wrote that “I’m also concerned about the impact these changes and the loss of government revenues will have on communities throughout the province.”

He points out the LDB, owned by taxpayers, contributed $4.3 billion to general revenue over the last five years and the government should consider modernizing and expanding hours to generate more revenue rather than handing it over to a for-profit company.

The resolution from council picks up on that suggesting that the system is currently a public asset and dismantling it will lead to higher consumer prices (as happened in Alberta) and increased social problems that municipalities will be left to deal with.

“I’m certainly in favour of privatization, it should have been done many years ago,” countered coun. Al Greir, speaking in favour of privatization in general.

The resolution passed with only Greir opposed, and coun. Bill Neufeld absent, calling for a moratorium on the privatization until the government conducts a formal public discussion with community input.