NEW GLASGOW – The announcement from Diana Whalen, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, on Feb. 14 that there won’t be a fee imposed on wine fermented at u-vints was good to hear for Charles Patton, owner of Water ‘N’ Wine.
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Customer Kelly Brennan corks a wine bottle in Water ‘N’ Wine on Westville Road.
The possibility of a levy was one of the biggest obstacles the industry was facing, Patton said.
He, and other businesses in the province, didn’t want to see the province go in that direction as they’ve been looking at P.E.I.’s regulations to build their own, which has a 75 cent fee on each litre of wine produced.
“Once we get legislation, we’ll know what we’re dealing with and can go forward,” Patton said.
The provincial government asked for input on regulations in January, and began consultations with stakeholders.
The consultations wrapped up early last week.
Whalen said she has supported the legalization of u-vints since 2007.
“After hearing from stakeholders, I am pleased to confirm that no new levy or fee will be introduced on ferment-on-premise products. Already, these businesses are expanding, hiring more Nova Scotians, and helping to grow our economy,” she said in a release.
She says the business model is working, and she will be meeting with owners and operators throughout Nova Scotia on her pre-budget tour.
“I have been clear with them that we are focused on removing barriers to economic growth. In turn, they are telling me that reducing red tape and unnecessary regulation is something that can make a difference.”
Patton said he will be attending a consultation with the province next week, and will know more at that point.
He, along with other brewing businesses across the province, have a number of suggestions for the new legislation.
“The group is unanimous in council that the P.E.I. policy and regulations don’t provide a good framework for Nova Scotia,” a report from the businesses said.
A number of the businesses have issues with restrictions on customer duties in producing the wine and the inability to offer assistance if needed, rules on advertising, and the walled separation of retail and production.
The report suggested New Brunswick’s regulations and parts of Ontario’s legislation as good points of reference for Nova Scotia.
Some of the other issues the report raised included the requirement for a beverage server certificate, and prior approval on design and renovations of the outlets.
Patton said he finds the reporting rules excessive as well.
They’re required to give monthly reports on how many bottles and batches they sell.
Patton feels they shouldn’t have to report at all.
The province agreed to develop new regulations after receiving a strong public response last year following an injunction from The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation against Water ‘N’ Wine and Wine Kitz in Halifax.
The new legislation is expected in the spring.
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