Change to B.C. liquor policy to impact all-ages events at some venues

A change to provincial liquor policies set to take effect this month will further reduce what is already a shortage of local venues for all-ages concerts, according to a Vancouver non-profit group.

The Safe Amplification Site Society is raising concerns about a Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) policy directive set to take effect on January 15, which will see some local establishments unable to host non-licensed shows for all ages.

“The concern is that there’s very few places for all-ages events as it is, and it doesn’t really seem like there’s any reason to take away one of the few options that do exist,” Ryan McCormick, a director with the society, which is focused on establishing a permanent all-ages space for music in the city, told the Straight by phone.

Under the policy change, liquor primary licensed establishments, such as nightclubs, bars and pubs, will no longer be permitted to “de-license” to host all-ages events of the same type the venue is licensed for. That means some music venues, like the Rickshaw Theatre, will no longer be allowed to apply to lock up their bar for a night in order to host an all-ages concert.

“Police, LCLB and communities have identified public safety and enforcement problems in LP [liquor primary] establishments which have been temporarily de-licensed for alternate use where the establishment is essentially carrying on the same business as they are licensed for (e.g. operating as a nightclub) but with all-ages present,” the November policy directive reads. “Minors attending these events have been found to be consuming liquor either prior to entering or outside the establishment during the course of the event”.

David Duprey, the owner of the Rickshaw, called the decision “ludicrous”.

“It is going to impact us financially…and it’s also just…messing with the kids,” he said in an interview. “Where are they going to go now? It could potentially drive a lot of these kids into underground venues where there is going to be no proper security and there are going to be no proper fire codes.”

McCormick echoed Duprey’s concern, calling the Rickshaw “one of very few legal, safe, all-ages venues that exists”.

“For it to be taken away for no real reason seems like an awful shame,” he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines, which oversees the LCLB, did not make anyone available for an interview with the Straight. But information provided by the ministry indicated the branch has received “numerous complaints” from parents, high schools, and from police in B.C. related to all-ages events in liquor primary establishments, and “concerns about the appropriateness of permitting minors in nightclubs and bars”.

According to Duprey, the Rickshaw typically hosts about one to two all-ages shows a month. He noted the venue has yet to confirm whether it will be able to host all-ages shows during the day. The policy directive indicates that temporary de-licensing is not required for alternate use of a licensed establishment before the start of licensed hours.

Venues such as theatres, stadiums, and concert halls with liquor primary licences, including the Rio Theatre and the Vogue, will not be affected by the policy directive for all-ages events. The Commodore Ballroom, which hosts occasional all-ages events, will also not be affected as it operates on a grandfathered food-primary and liquor-primary dual licence. 

Comments (13) Add New Comment
You
It's a real shame that teens can get coke on the street but can't figure out how to get a fake ID.
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Stupid
Those people at the LCLB and the police don't want any fun in the city. Boring. There is no outside celebration on nye, no fireworks. No fun Vancouver.
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Charles Campbell
Must punish businesses for what customers do before they go there. For example, driving dangerously to a mall. Or misappropriating money before depositing it in a bank. Banks and malls -- pure evil.
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Robert
But I can take my Kids to a Hockey game and sit next to some drunk with 5 beer stacked in front of him! (all age event).
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p
This decision was not based on any careful study of the situation. The policy directive gives no detailed background beyond the vague terms "complaints" by "police, LCLB, and communities", and when pressed, the LCLB has not yielded any further background details for this change.
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age-related discrimination
Would someone in government explain why the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines is overseeing liquor licensing rules? I have never understood the need to separate age groups for celebrations and cultural events, and I have noted when all ages truly inter-mingle, everyone is better behaved. BC needs to grow up and get a life.
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Meathead
Another knee-jerk reaction from overly sensitive parents, fascist cops and bleeding heart politicians... let's not let anyone have any fun since having a good time is effectively being outlawed.
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joey
crap, poor kids, no wonder they turn to drugs and crime since we treat them like shit. Where are they supposed to see kids their age play and perform? I can remember all the great young bands that used to play at Mesa Luna on Broadway, it made Lights Below a popular band. How the hell do young musicians get exposed now?
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Justin
So shutting this kind of venue down is going to prevent kids from consuming liquor? Yeah, sure. Sad.
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Micro
My reading of this is the LCLB is worried that kids being in a bar is bad, even if there's zero chance they can buy liquor. Somehow, by a process of osmosis, the youth will have their vulnerable minds tainted by the heady possibilities of the purchase of beers and will have no power to resist the evils of casual drinking.
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Larry
This is soooooo retarded! So its better that kids are wandering around Hastings scoring and doing nothing?
Seattle has had all-ages mixed shows for years. Teens need places to go. God knows there is NOTHING in this the city for them to do..

This is either someone { Donnelly?} lobbying the city or a total idiot that thinks this is a good idea....
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CR
Let me get this straight: the liquor licensing board wants to restrict venues from *not* selling alcohol to minors because lack of alcohol sales at an all-ages show causes them to drink elsewhere? Who the &^(! is on this board?
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??
Why would anyone give a shit about teenagers? They certainly don't give a shit about anyone else.
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