Category Archives for BC Liquor Law Reform

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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BOLO 2021: BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR THESE LIQUOR LAW CHANGES IN THE NEW YEAR

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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