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As summer begins, BC Government announces changes to the way alcohol is consumed

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
June 22nd, 2014

As part of its Liquor Policy Review, the BC Government has made some changes to the way alcohol is consumed in the province.

Friday, the government introduced the minimum price an establishment can charge is $3 for a drink – which, for example, would buy a 1.5 ounce cocktail, a five ounce glass of wine or 12 ounce sleeve of beer or cider.

This allows licensees, such as pubs, restaurants and lounges, to alter their liquor prices throughout the course of the day is a pocket-book friendly change for British Columbians that will help the industry attract customers at times when business may typically be slow.

“Implementing minimum drink prices is an important part of our commitment to protect health and safety, as we move forward on modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws. In setting the minimum price, it was important to us that we listened to both industry and health advocates,” Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice said.

“We have done that and I believe establishing a $3 per drink minimum achieves a good balance for them, and for British Columbians.”

Some of the other changes include:

– Customers are able to move freely from one licensed area to another whereas before staff was required to carry customer’s drinks to the new adjoining restaurant from the pub.

– Patrons at businesses open mainly offering food can now order drinks without having to order food — these establishment must continue to offer food.

– Businesses may now transfer small amounts of liquor between similar types of establishments, i.e., if a pub is low on a product it can get a specific amount of liquor from a nearby restaurant with the same kind of liquor license.

– Hosts of family Special Occasion License (SOL) events may now serve homemade and Brew/UVin beer, wine or cider.

“Happy hours are a welcome change for the food and beverage industry, both creating revenue opportunities at times of the day when business may be slow and providing new occasions for customers around the province to catch up over a discounted drink at one of B.C.’s many restaurants,” said Ian Tostenson, president, B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Additional liquor policy updates, like allowing restaurants to serve guests a drink without complicated rules on food consumption, will also reduce confusion for consumers and cut red tape for businesses.”

Check out this infographic for detailed information on B.C.’s new minimum drink prices:

Saturday, more changes were made allowing beer, wine, cider and spirits can be sampled and sold alongside fresh fruits and veggies at B.C. farmers’ markets, as a new batch of Liquor Policy Review changes take effect.

“Having local liquor manufacturers at B.C. farmers’ markets will offer shoppers a convenient opportunity to taste-test and purchase local liquor products, and at the same time promoting B.C. agri-tourism, creating new economic opportunities for local businesses and helping to complement the sales of B.C.-grown foods,” said Jon Bell, president of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets.

Adopting a community-centred approach, liquor manufacturers will apply directly to the farmers’ markets where they wish to sell their products and it will be up to the market association to determine which vintners, distillers and brewers are accepted, subject to municipal bylaws.

To help ensure responsible service and prevent sales to minors, liquor vendors must have Serving it Right certification.

Another change that reflects modern societal values is the opportunity for families to grab brunch at a local pub or enjoy a meal together at their legion branch. As of today, liquor-primary establishments may apply to accommodate minors. Should establishments wish to keep their current business model, they are free to do so.

This change opens up new dining options for rural communities, where the number of family eateries may be limited. To balance health and safety concerns, minors must be accompanied by an adult and may stay no later than 10 p.m.

Quick Facts:

  • To date, 17 of the 73 recommendations from the B.C. Liquor Policy Review have been implemented.
  • Government’s goal is to implement 70% of the 73 recommendations by spring 2015.
  • A complete re-write of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act is planned for spring 2015. In the meantime, government has adopted a phased-in approach to modernizing B.C.’s liquor laws.
  • The first set of amendments, which modernized outdated provisions and provide the foundation for implementation of key recommendations, received Royal Assent on May 29, 2014.


Categories: HealthPolitics

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