Liquor Laws Are Changing

BC’s Liquor Control Act is changing – Is your business ready?

On January 31, 2014 the Ministry of Justice released the B.C. Liquor Policy Review Final Report. This comprehensive report was the product of 87 days of consultation including 65 stakeholder meetings, and the input from tens of thousands of engaged British Columbians. Though there have been many updates and amendments to the current legislation over the past century, never before has the Provincial government consulted so extensively with stakeholders and the public. The Report made 73 recommendations in total, all of which have been endorsed by the government.

Of the 73 recommendations, 28 require changes to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. 15 of those 28 changes have already been made, with the balance of the recommendations requiring “significant changes” to the current Act. These changes will be addressed with a full repeal and rewrite of the Act in 2015. Note that until these later changes are implemented, the existing laws still apply.

The new Act will strive to develop a balance between protecting public health and safety through the ongoing regulation of the production and sale of alcohol, while also providing consumers with more convenience and streamlining regulations for the industry.

Examples of the recommendations that have already been implemented include:

  • Liquor Sales at Farmer’s Markets: wineries, breweries and distilleries with an on-site store endorsement may now sell their products at farmer’s markets.
  • Minors in Liquor-Primary Establishments: Liquor-primary licensees may now apply for a “family foodservice” term and condition on their licence. This change will allow pubs and other establishments that offer foodservice to expand the range of dining options they offer their customers.
  • Mixed-spirit drinks are now permitted at public Special Occasion Licence events.
  • Stadium licensees are now allowed to sell all types of liquor, although shooters are still not allowed by hawkers or concession stands.

Is your business ready to implement these changes?

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.

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