Local liquor store worker Linda Atkinson urged Sechelt council to take a stand against privatizing the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) at the Aug. 1 council meeting, but council said the issue is outside their jurisdiction.
Members of the B.C. Government and Services Employee’s Union have been urging municipal governments across the province to adopt resolutions in opposition of privatizing the LDB, something they see as the first step in privatizing the entire public liquor system.
“This is officially the biggest sell-off of a public asset since B.C. Rail. This sale does not just affect the communities in the distribution centres; this sale will have economic and social impact on all communities,” Atkinson told council, noting the citizens of B.C. deserved a say in the decision. “I ask you to urge the provincial government to put a moratorium on privatization of the LDB.”
Following her presentation council debated her request for a motion.
“This is a very interesting discussion and I really feel that a discussion of this level falls outside our mandate in municipal government,” said Coun. Chris Moore. “This sits squarely on the shoulders of the provincial government, and it’s really not a debate that I personally want to get involved in.”
Coun. Alice Lutes disagreed.
“It may be that it’s out of our mandate, but it’s something we can urge the province to look at and all the presenter is asking for is the opportunity for people of the province to have the discussion rather than to have the province make the decision without any consultation,” Lutes said, noting she had a motion to put forward to that effect when the discussion was through.
Moore then put forward a motion of his own that Atkinson’s report be forwarded to the appropriate officials within the provincial government for their consideration.
“I’m sure that the province has received this information,” Lutes said. “In order to let them know how this council and hopefully this community feels I think we need a resolution with a little more direction.”
When council was asked to vote on Moore’s motion, councillors Doug Hockley, Darnelda Siegers, Moore and Mayor John Henderson were in favour, effectively passing it.
Lutes then put a motion forward asking for a moratorium on the LDB sale and calling for public consultation on the issue, but only she, Siegers and Coun. Mike Shanks were in favour, so the motion was defeated.