BC NDP leader Adrian Dix
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
In one of the party's first major election promises, BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix announced Wednesday that, if elected, his government would reduce the markup on locally produced spirits to parallel the benefits the provincial wine industry receives.
"Currently, B.C. distilleries have less than 1% of the spirit market in B.C., so this is opportunity for them to grow," Dix said at his downtown Vancouver office.
"It is not a big footprint, but it is consistent in our commitment to promote small business in BC, to promote agriculture in BC and trying to build an industry that makes sense."
The B.C. NDP proposal calls on the markup of the spirits to be reduced from 170% to 129% - the same rate now imposed on local wine producers.
The changes would also wave commissions on direct sales made at distilleries.
"As we see people come through these farm-gate operations they are proud of what our province is producing," NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham said. "Primary products, we need to grow them, but we need to make more out of that. We need to make a business case. I think this is exactly what is needed."
Right now, there are seven distilleries that would qualify for breaks similar to those made for the wine industry in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The industry is also asking for the ability to distribute independently.
"It would make an immense difference. It would bring our industry out of a revenue-negative into a revenue-positive position," said Tyler Dyck, CEO of Okanagan Spirits. "We want the right to be able to sell directly, like the wineries. If we do all the work we should keep all the profits."
Farmers could also benefit from this plan, most notably potato growers in Pemberton, BC, and apple and cherry producers in the Okanagan.