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

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
A micro brewery is being eyed for Jordan River. However, the site where the brewery is proposed still needs to go through the rezoning process. (Black Press Media file)
Micro brewery proposed for Jordan River

Jordan River Brewing Company envisions to build wholesale, sit-in brewery along Highway 14

Traffic waits at the intersection of Highway 17 and Beacon Avenue. A study found failing levels of service at the intersection of Highway 17 and Sidney’s Beacon Avenue for multiple movements during morning peak traffic and for all left-moving traffic during afternoon peak traffic. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Province supports potential interim improvements to Sidney intersection

Province says interchange is the long-term plan for intersection of Beacon Avenue and Highway 17

Oak Bay local Lachlan Kratz (red, middle) has signed with pro rugby team NOLO Gold in Louisiana. (Contributed photo)
Oak Bay local signs with pro rugby team

Lachlan Kratz at 21 is now NOLO Gold’s youngest member

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Most Read