Live-music proponents have launched a petition aimed at bringing changes to B.C.’s liquor laws.
With the provincial election a month away, the Safe Amplification Site Society is hoping candidates will take notice of the group’s demands.
“Our liquor laws are ageist, stifling, and dysfunctional,” the petition reads. “In particular, they make it very difficult for music venues to admit people under the age of 19 - a demographic that includes about 20% of British Columbians.”
In a petition that has gained over 800 signatures since being launched last week, the society is calling for three changes to be made to provincial liquor laws.
Ryan McCormick, a director with Safe Amp, said the group wants to see a new liquor licence created that permits minors on the premises of live-music venues while alcohol is served to those aged 19 and older.
“I think that society has evolved to the point where we can handle having minors in the same room as drinking adults, and it happens anyway at all those types of venues, like theatres, stadiums, restaurants, and our point is why shouldn’t it happen at concerts as well?” McCormick told the Straight by phone.
The other demands are for B.C. to overhaul its special-occasion licences to base the categories of licences on audience size rather than public or private events, and to repeal a policy directive issued in January that disallowed liquor-primary venues from temporarily de-licensing to host an all-ages event.
“These aren’t new problems,” McCormick noted. “This has been a problem in B.C. for years. Other places have found ways to allow minors in the same venue as drinking adults....We decided to bring it up in the run-up to the election, hoping that candidates will chime in on the issue and will take a stand one way or the other, and then we can tell our community what the candidates are saying, and then hopefully that will inform people’s voting decisions too so they know which parties have their interests at hand.”
The Safe Amplification Site Society is a non-profit group that is dedicated to establishing a permanent all-ages space for music and other arts events in Vancouver.
McCormick noted the group also hopes to ask questions at all-candidates meetings, and has been in contact with all four major political parties to seek their positions on changing B.C.’s liquor laws.
“I think people just feel like enough is enough, and hopefully the election can be an opportunity to ask for some changes,” he said.