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Liquor at outdoor markets

Visitors to Penticton's Saturday farmers' and community markets may soon see liquor vendors on site.

The Penticton council passed first reading of zoning changes that would include liquor tastings and sales within the outdoor market use, at its Monday meeting.

"It is beneficial to have this at the farmers' market and puts us in tune with the rest of the world," said Mayor Garry Litke. 

The mayor added that council is staying out of the way and not preparing to introduce red tape to stop this.

The government of BC recently made changes to the regulations around the service and sales of liquor within the province, including permitting liquor at farmers markets.

While market tastings have just been deregulated by the province, market organizers must still adhere to Liquor Control and Licensing Branch rules in order to maintain their license.

The zoning change would ensure organizers have the flexibility to offer wine tastings in the market provided they meet all provincial regulations.

The BC government change has generated a significant amount of interest from local suppliers in the wine, craft brewery and distilling industries.

Kerri Milton with the Downtown Penticton Association said she has been hearing constant requests on this matter from individual wineries, winery associations, breweries and distilleries since January.

"There is obviously a big interest in this, and we are very excited and looking forward to the new opportunities it presents," she said.

There will be a public hearing on the matter on July 21. Milton said they are hoping to move forward with this for July 26, depending on the outcome of the hearing.

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