Recent decisions published by the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch indicate that across British Columbia liquor inspectors and environmental health officers (“EHOs“) have been busy monitoring food and beverage establishments for compliance with COVID related public health orders.
Establishments that refuse to comply risk losing their business and liquor licences in addition to stiff financial penalties.Continue reading
In order to obtain (and renew) a licence to sell alcohol in British Columbia, the General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch must be satisfied that the individual or individuals applying for the licence are suitable – meaning that they are “fit and proper”. To assist the General Manager (and his or her delegates) in making this determination the Liquor Control and Licensing Act provides that the General Manager may make inquiries and conduct investigations, including background investigations and criminal record checks, for the purpose of informing the exercise of this discretion.
This is an important concept for existing and pending licensees to understand if they (or their business partners, investors, friends and family) have a history of criminality or otherwise unlawful behaviour – even if that conduct occurred in other provinces or countries. Alcohol & Advocacy has written about these concepts before in other contexts, and those articles can be found here and here.
A very recent decision of Ontario’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (“LAT“) involved an analysis of these very concerns. Although Ontario’s legislation and processes are a little different than British Columbia’s, the LAT’s treatment of issues relating to past criminality, accountability, and transparency during the licence application process are in the writer’s view instructive.Continue reading
British Columbia’s Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch defines gaming (also called gambling) “as playing or gaming, for money or other stakes, on an uncertain event; it involves chance and the hope of gaining something more than the amount paid to participate.” This definition can be found in the Liquor Primary and Food Primary Terms and Conditions.
Generally speaking, only very limited forms of gaming are permitted in pubs and bars in British Columbia. Slot machines (VLTS) for example are only permitted in licensed gaming venues such as casinos and race tracks. Unlicensed gaming pools, including those associated with major sporting events, are prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada.Continue reading
St. Patrick’s Day is a big source of business for the liquor industry. While all owners and managers hope that the day will run smoothly, and profitably, the failure by staff to comply with the terms of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, namely by over-service, can put a damper on the festivities. Regrettably, the Brew Street Craft and Kitchen learned this the hard way last year.
British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch is reviewing its policies on naming and signage for establishments with food primary liquor licences. You can read the consultation paper here.
A licensee in British Columbia may receive a Contravention Notice from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for a variety of reasons; serving minors and over-serving patrons are two of the most common. However, another issue arises with more frequency than most managers and owners probably realize: failing to promptly produce a record or thing for inspection.
Recently the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch released its reasons in Re Wolf in the Fog EH16-096, confirming that even high-end restaurants will be targeted by British Columbia’s liquor inspectors conducting minors as agent program (MAP) investigations.
Licensees who operate in vacation destinations or resort communities know that that many of their patrons are visiting from away, and are in town to relax. Customers may be from foreign jurisdictions where the laws and culture surrounding the service and consumption of alcohol are very different than they are here in British Columbia; alternatively their customers may very well know the local laws and restrictions but feel that the laws should be as relaxed as they are.
From time-to-time the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch releases compliance and enforcement statistics. The most recent statistics on licensee contraventions of BC’s liquor laws are for the period between January and October, 2016. Alcohol & Advocacy has previously written on this issue for the period between January, 2010 and December, 2013, and that article can be found here.
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.