Category Archives for BC Liquor Law Reform

August, 2022 General Liquor Policy Changes

So far 2022 has been a relatively slow year for policy changes by British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Readers of A&A will know that over the last couple years (largely driven by COVID) government regulators had been rolling out some substantial changes to liquor policy. But 2022? Not so much.

That changed a little on August 15, 2022 when the Branch published Policy Directive No. 22-13 that contained six changes to liquor policy. The changes are as follows:

1 – Buying Liquor: the Terms and Conditions Handbooks have been updated to confirm that licensees may only purchase liquor for the purpose of selling or serving it. This subtle clarification confirms that a bar or restaurant cannot purchase liquor that it cannot lawfully sell.

2 – Automated Liquor Dispensing Systems (ADS): Are now permitted (yay?) provided the liquor being dispensed comes from the original container, and the ADSs are not set up in a seating area (e.g. table-top liquor dispensing).

3 – Glassware in Stadiums: If a licensee is offering a “formal dinner” (which includes buffet dinners) they may now serve liquor in glassware. Previously they were required to use disposable containers. How fancy.

4 – Liquor price list requirements regarding taxes: Licensees are no longer required to specify, in the price list, whether or not taxes are included and what the applicable taxes are. Yawn.

5 – Liquor incident log: This has long been a concept referred to in Branch literature, but we now have prescribed types of incidents and information that should be logged, as follows:

When an incident occurs in or adjacent to an establishment or event site, the details must be recorded in an incident log. All incidents that adversely affect patrons, staff, people who live or work in adjacent buildings, or that affect the operation of the establishment must be recorded in the log and be available to inspectors or peace officers. 

Examples of these incidents include:

  • Refusing entry at the door to a potentially troublesome person or anyone who is causing a disturbance;
  • Refusing entry of an intoxicated person; 
  • Removing an intoxicated person; 
  • An injury or accident on the premises, including a fight;
  • Any incidents where emergency personnel were called (police, fire, or ambulance); 
  • Any illegal acts.

An incident report should include key details such as the date, time and description of events, the parties involved, any action taken, and any relevant sales records. Other details such as the names of the employees on shift and witness accounts are also important.

The records in an incident log must be kept for at least six years.

If a licensee or an employee becomes aware that a patron has brought unlawful liquor into the establishment or event, they must ask the patron to leave the establishment or event immediately. This must be reported in the incident log.

6 – Branded Refrigerators:  Retail stores are permitted to accept a maximum of two manufacturer brand-identified refrigerators of which the combined total size cannot exceed 38 cubic feet. Just remember LRS operators: ownership of the refrigerator must be retained by the manufacturer; and the manufacturer cannot pay for the installation or maintenance costs of the refrigerator(s).

Dan Coles and the other lawyers at Owen Bird have significant experience in the liquor law and hospitality sector. Please give us a call if we can be of assistance to your or your operations.

*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

Alcohol & Advocacy Year in Review 2021

2021 proved to be another banner year for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it changes to the liquor law landscape. Alcohol & Advocacy frequently describes the liquor laws in British Columbia, and across Canada, as “dynamic” and that remains very much the case.

COVID continued to drive the bus as far as policy changes by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch are concerned. COVID was also responsible for certain, shall we say stubborn, licensees becoming “former licensees”. This year we also saw some notable names in the trade, Burrowing Owl and Fets Whisky Kitchen, involved in contested court applications that may result in a winery and some whisky changing hands – albeit in very different circumstances.

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Throughout 2020 British Columbia’s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch issued a series of temporary relaxations of existing rules and regulations in response to COVID 19.

Certain of these time-limited measures were immediately felt by consumers such as expanded service areas and the provision for bars and restaurants to sell packaged liquor products (e.g. beer and wine) with the sale of a meal.

Other temporary licensing changes authorized this past year were more technical in nature and related to the manufacture of hand sanitizer or the granting of authority for manufacturers (think Okanagan based wineries) to direct deliver their liquor products to retail customers from their registered offsite storage locations (think warehouses located in lower mainland) rather than strictly from inventory maintained at their onsite store.

The provincial government has even gone as far as approving a temporary pricing model for hospitality licensees to purchase liquor at the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) wholesale price until March 31, 2021.

These and other policy changes have had a profound impact on how liquor is manufactured, sold and consumed in British Columbia – but for now they are just temporary.

What will 2021 hold? Alcohol & Advocacy is closely monitoring the following:

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Persephone Brewing ordered to move from Agricultural Land Reserve

Craft beer darling, and Sunshine Coast favourite Persephone Brewing Company has been given two years to relocate its facilities off its current premises in British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). On December 19th, 2016 the Agricultural Land Commission (South Coast Panel) released the reasons of its decision not to permit Persephone to continue to operate at its 11 acre property located at 1053 Stewart Road in Gibsons, BC. The reasons can be found here.

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Liquor Law Reform in Canada

In the 1920s, as Prohibition in Canada was on the retreat, the federal government and each of the provincial governments were in agreement that liquor sales and consumption needed to be tightly controlled. To facilitate this agenda each province created a liquor control board that monopolized the wholesale purchasing, pricing, and retailing of alcoholic beverages under a heavily regulated regime.

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BC’s Liquor Law Commissions of the 20th Century

“It would be a simple task to draft legislation for the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages if all our citizens were self-disciplined and moderate users, but such is not the case, and this is amply supported by the incontrovertible knowledge that all civilised countries find it necessary and desirable to enact restrictive and disciplinary laws for its control”- Report of the British Columbia Liquor Inquiry Commission 1952

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