North Vancouver corner store wins liquor zoning
Chocolate bars, chips and a glass of wine could soon be sold over the same convenience store counter as the District of North Vancouver amended zoning to allow a hundred-year-old mom-and-pop shop to now serve liquor.
In a unanimous decision Monday, council voted to allow The Corner Store at 2230 Lloyd Ave. to obtain a food-primary liquor licence from the province, permitting the sale of beer, cider and wine in the shop until 9 p.m.
Coun. Mike Little was absent from the vote.
The Corner Store owner Tracey Cochrane told The Outlook Tuesday she’s “thrilled” with council’s decision, but stressed that her motivation to rezone the store was about more than just serving booze.
“To move towards this food-primary, it brings us into compliance with the food that we’re serving and we now can expand our menu and our seating, so we’re thrilled,” Cochrane said.
The Corner Store is now working with a consultant to secure the liquor licensing from the province, but Cochrane said she does not believe the consultant has applied to the licensing branch yet.
Under the approved zoning amendment, The Corner Store is allowed to serve food and alcohol inside the shop to 30 seated patrons at a time, in an area no larger than 30 per cent of the store’s total floor space.
Mayor Richard Walton was adamant that this liquor-amenable zoning would not set a precedent for other like-minded shops in the district, noting that of three other district convenience store cafes, “at least one of the proprietors is very interested in” obtaining similar zoning.
“That this council is making a policy on corner stores, on record, it ain’t happening,” Walton told council.
“I have to tell you, if I was living across the street, I’d be a little nervous still because — you know what? — people my age who drink wine tend to be a little louder with their conversations and whatever. And I know there’s a nine o’clock curfew. But there’s a couple restaurants on the North Shore I will not go to because the acoustics are so bad that after people have had a glass of wine you can’t hear yourself within that restaurant.”
Noise aside, Coun. Roger Bassam said he would support allowing such “vibrant and robust general-store service” in other North Vancouver neighbourhoods, but added The Corner Store is something of an ideal test case because Pemberton Heights is a “happily isolated part of our community.”
Prior to the vote, Coun. Alan Nixon told council why he supported liquor zoning for The Corner Store.
“What we have obviously is a community that’s ready to make a bit of a leap in terms of a more mature, sophisticated approach to how we consume liquor,” Nixon said.
“I think we are breaking some new ground and I think it’s a bit of a test.”
Nixon added that, having worked at that Lloyd Avenue store site when he was eight years old, he knows the importance Pemberton Heights residents place on keeping the shop open and said he believes liquor sales will help ensure the shop’s long-term prosperity.
“The community itself, I think, will police this and will be the best enforcers of the liquor license and regulations as well as our own requirements under the zoning bylaw,” Nixon said.
Coun. Lisa Muri agreed, saying North Vancouver need not be afraid of the bottle on the cafe table any more.
“I don’t think we should fear alcohol when we put it in places we’re not used to putting it in,” she said. “This is something that happens in Europe all the time. Alcohol is an accepted part of their life in Europe and cafes are laced through little neighbourhoods and communities and they all serve alcohol and it’s all supported by the community and policed by the community.”
A corner store has been open at the same 2230 Lloyd Ave. location since 1912. Cochrane has now owned the shop for just over five years, a time when many of North Van’s corner stores have closed due to their inability to compete with gas stations and larger chain grocery retailers.