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Vernon  

Christy Clark gets crafty

All Tyler Dyck wants for the craft distillery industry is parity with the wine industry.

The CEO of Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery said the industry has grown in leaps and bounds since the Liberals made changes to the liquor laws three years ago, but more needs to be done.

Dyck likened the industry to a toddler that needs nurturing to grow. The industry needs to be given more freedom from the B.C. Liberal government, something he mentioned to the premier who visited the Vernon facility Wednesday morning.

Christy Clark said she was impressed with what she saw.

“I see jobs for British Columbians; that's what I see,” said Clark during the brief stop in Vernon.

Clark noted the products used at the distillery that makes gin, whisky and vodka, are from B.C. and thus support local industries such as agriculture.

Clark agreed the craft industry is ready to grow.

“We have more changes to make,” said Clark, who pointed out it was the Liberals that changed the rules in the first place to open the door for craft distilleries.

“Here, it's turned out to be a great success, let's build on that success,” said Clark, adding the government could look at taxes, pricing and other aspects of the industry to help it grow.

“Creating jobs is sometimes better than getting money in taxes,” she told those in attendance, noting the B.C. wine industry generates tax revenue for the province.

Dyck said one thing distilleries would like is the ability to make more product.

Distilleries produce a fraction of what the wine industry generates and Dyck said since 2004, when there was one craft distillery in B.C., the number has grown to 31 with more than 20 applications for distilleries in the queue.

Dyck said he would like to see a VQA-style system put in place similar to that of the wine industry.

Dyck said the Liberals have put procedures and rules in place to allow the industry to start, but “we could massage it to make it better.

“All we want is parity with the wine industry. I am very hopeful this year we will see a substantial change.”

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