Today’s Poll

New wave changes allow parents to enjoy cool one during family-friendly festivals

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
April 27th, 2014

Parents will no longer need to have a barrier between them and children in order to enjoy a cool one at festivals after Attorney General and Minister of Justice announced changes to BC liquor laws Saturday.

In government press release Attorney General Suzanne Anton said parents will be able to enjoy a beverage and explore the festival grounds together with their kids, rather than being restricted to a caged-off beer garden.

“Allowing family-friendly festivals to license the grounds instead of cordoning off beer gardens means families can stay together to enjoy the music, fun and festivities and, at the same time, will reduce set-up costs for the many non-profits that do such great work in our province,” Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice explained.

Our government promised to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws – increasing convenience, selection and choice for consumers, while keeping public safety top of mind – and we are delivering on that promise.”

The government said public safety will continue to be a top priority.

All festivals and public special events that wish to sell alcohol will still need to apply for a special occasion licence (SOL) and may be subject to local government or police approval.

For large-scale events that expect more than 500 people, event organizers must submit a site plan that demonstrates a safe, secure environment with controls in place to keep liquor out of the hands of minors.

Today’s changes also refresh additional, outdated liquor policies. Sales of mixed spirits, such as gin and tonic or rum and Coke, are now allowed at SOL events, such as music festivals and regattas, offering more choice and selection for consumers, and creating new opportunities for B.C.’s craft distilleries.

Sports and entertainment venues will also see positive changes, thanks to modernized rules around spirit sales and licensing.

Rather than only serving beer and wine to those in the general seating area, and spirits to those in private boxes or premium seats, B.C. stadiums and arenas can now serve spirits to all patrons, no matter where they are seated.

“We heard from many British Columbians during the Liquor Policy Review that beer garden fencing is an unnecessary barrier that inconveniences families, and that they are looking for increased choice and selection,” said John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform.

We listened, we are acting to address those calls and we are moving forward with our plan to update B.C.’s out-of-date liquor laws so they reflect modern-day society.”

Quick Facts:

  • The recommendations from the Liquor Policy Review that came into effect today include:
  1. Except where it is not suitable from a public safety perspective, permit whole-site licensing for public events, eliminating “beer gardens” (recommendation 51).
  2. Allow the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events (recommendation 52).
  3. There should be more drink choices (e.g., mixed spirits) for consumers, as in all other types of licensed establishments (recommendation 56).
  4. Liquor sales in arenas and stadiums should be permitted in all public areas. As part of this, stadiums should have increased flexibility to provide hawking services to patrons in both the seated and concourse areas, and throughout the scheduled event (recommendation 57).
  • Large-scale events of more than 500 people will be assessed for public safety risks based on factors such as the nature, demographic, size and duration of the event, crowd density, security presence, lighting and site visibility and licensee compliance history.
  • Festivals or special events that wish to have beer garden fencing may still do so.
  • All public events held under a SOL must be hosted by a non-profit organization, with the proceeds going to charitable purposes.

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