More than a dozen BCGEU (B.C. Government Employee Union) employees picketed Columbia Avenue outside the Castlegar Liquor Store on Sunday. The employees want to see public liquor stores throughout the West Kootenay be open for Sunday service.
“We’re here because we want to draw attention to the fact that Sunday openings make sense for the public liquor stores,” said Henny Hanegraaf, union representive for BCGEU – West Kootenay. “(Right now in the West Kootenay) It’s just the private liquor stores that are open on Sundays.”
Hanegraaf says their are government liquor stores in Kelowna and on the coast that are open on Sundays. “It generates revenue for the province,” she said. “The BCGEU has proposed Sunday openings at the bargaining table. It’s a notion that’s been rejected by government. We think it doesn’t make any sense to keep stores closed on Sundays. The public wants access to the public liquor stores on Sunday and they should be open.”
The protesters handed out leaflets stating that opening those 175 public liquor stores (throughout the province) on Sunday would generate over $100 million in new provincial revenue each year.
“This is money to pay for important public services and fund fair wage increases for public service workers without increasing taxes.”
The picketers are also protesting the sale of liquor distribution outlets in Kelowna and Burnaby. “We don’t think it makes sense to turn that over the private enterprise,” said Hanegraaf. “The sale of alcohol, other than taxes, is a revenue generator for the government. Why not generate more revenue?”