As you're probably already well aware, the government of BC
has been undergoing its first major review of our antiquated liquor
laws in over two decades, and after holding 65 stakeholder
meetings, and receiving 76,255 site visits and 3,587 e-mails over a
six-week public consultation period, Parliamentary Secretary John
Yap released his highly anticipated final report this past Friday.
Find it here. The report contains a total of
73 recommendations that touch on everything from how alcohol is
sold and purchased to how it's licensed and distributed, and
the Province has announced that it fully supports every one of
So just what kind of changes are coming to BC? Well, many of the
report's 'big ticket' items were previously released
back in November and December, but are worth mentioning again.
These include things like liquor sales in grocery stores, the
return of happy hour, accompanied minors in pubs, and my personal
favourite: liquor sales at farmers' markets. The report also
contains a number of new recommendations that are sure to resonate
with the drinking public. First of all, the liquor consumption
'holding pens' at the festivals you frequent (otherwise
known as 'beer gardens') will soon be a thing of the past.
Starting this summer, you should be able to walk around with a pint
at events instead of being segregated behind a fence. For those of
us who would prefer to drink a $12 rum and coke instead of a $9
glass of Canadian when they watch the Canucks at Rogers Arena,
you're in luck, because alcohol sales at sporting events will
no longer be limited to just beer and wine. And finally, if
you're like me, and filling up a growler at a local brewery is
how you get your beer, you'll soon have even more choices, as
government and private liquor stores will now be permitted to sell
and fill growlers.
Speaking of growlers, the report also contains a number of good
things for the fine people who labour every day to make the beer we
drink. The first of these is the creation of a new craft beer
marketing and product-placement strategy for government liquor
stores, similar to the one currently used for BC wine. The
government also plans to start working with BC's craft brewers
to create maps, apps and brochures to develop craft beer tourism,
plus it wants to simplify the archaic rules that regulate liquor
production and distribution in the province. There's even talk
of setting up a quality assurance program for BC Craft beer like
the VQA program used by our province's wineries.
At this point, a fair amount remains to be seen about what a
number of these recommendations will actually look like when put
into place, as several will take a fair amount of time to study
before they can be implemented. The real test will be in the look
of new legislation, policy manuals, license applications and, of
course, in how quickly we can start to enjoy the changes announced
on Friday. While the province didn't go as far as some of us
would have liked and permitted things like public consumption at
parks and beaches or liquor sales in corner stores, it's
nonetheless pretty amazing to think about how far we've come in
such a relatively short amount of time. Consider the following
quote from a provincial review of our liquor laws back in 1952,
"we do not look with favour on, and very definitely recommend
against, the exotic, dimly lighted, voluptuous type of cocktail bar
which creates the delusive impression of opulence and social
distinction." Think about that the next time you find
yourself enjoying happy hour at The Keefer or wandering about in
the sun at Folk Fest with a pint of Old Jalopy, or simply having a
meal with your kids at your local pub.
After years of window-dressing and baby steps, it looks like we
just might finally be getting 21st century liquor laws in BC.
Let's drink to that.
Originally published by Scout Magazine.
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