Dave Brimacombe and Wayward Distillery staff members pictured with mountains of ethanol and sanitizer. Photo supplied

Dave Brimacombe and Wayward Distillery staff members pictured with mountains of ethanol and sanitizer. Photo supplied

B.C. distillery stuck with a warehouse full of sanitizer

Courtenay’s Wayward Distillery donated about $75,000 worth, now can’t sell enough to cover expenses

A B.C. distillery owner spent nearly $600,000 on ethanol, one of the ingredients he uses to make hand sanitizer, which he distributed free of charge during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the ethanol is sitting untouched in storage.

Gord Johns, the MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding on Vancouver Island, blames the federal government for flooding the market with sanitizer purchased from other countries, which has driven down the price.

RELATED: MPs urge support for small-scale distilleries after feds give sanitizer contracts to big firms

RELATED: Vancouver Island distilleries help combat COVID-19 with hand sanitizer

He said Dave Brimacombe, owner of Courtenay’s Wayward Distillery, had donated about $75,000 worth of sanitizer, then started selling it at cost to cover expenses. As sales increased, he did not qualify for the federal wage subsidy or the rent program because it is revenue measured.

“His profit dropped massively, but his revenue went up, so therefore he’s getting no government support,” Johns said. “This guy is getting kicked while he’s down.”

Johns spoke about Brimacombe’s plight during Question Period in the House of Commons. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said she would be pleased to be in touch with Brimacombe to learn more about his situation. She also said government has a range of programs to support businesses, such as wage subsidy and rent support.

Brimacombe said he can either stop selling sanitizer to collect the wage subsidy, or keep selling at a loss.

“I’m sitting on sanitizer which I manufactured and paid for months ago,” he said. “I’m selling inventory at a loss so that I can have cash flow required to survive. Every gallon I send out the door is a loss to the company.

“As far as we know, we were the first on this side of the country to be donating hand sanitizer,” he added.

“The prime minister said, ‘We need hand sanitizer.’ One of the first we donated to was the Victoria Police Department. We saw the need, and we pivoted hard. We were putting out 15 to 20,000 litres a week. I did five years worth of production in a month.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s first case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Larry Fiege, right, from Fiege’s Farm shows a rapt audience the old-fashioned way to tap a Bigleaf Maple during the Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre Feb. 1 and 2, 2020. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)
Maple Syrup Festival in Duncan cancelled

The annual syrup festival is a popular event at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

The Lake Cowichan Legion received federal funding in December, 2020 to help the organization weather the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan Legion receives federal COVID-19 assistance funding

Can be used for expenses such as insurance, utilities, rent or mortgages, property taxes, and wages.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read