B.C. government backs 12 liquor policy changes

B.C. premier Christy Clark has announced her government's support for 12 liquor policy changes.

Those reforms were recommended by B.C. Liberal MLA John Yap, who led the government's recent liquor policy review.

None of the supported proposals relate to the selling of alcohol in grocery stores, which received a lot of attention during the public consultation.

"We promised to bring British Columbia's liquor laws into the 21st century - to give consumers more choice, give B.C. businesses more opportunities to grow, while ensuring health and safety," Clark said in a news release today (December 11). "These changes are a step towards that."

According to the release, the B.C. Liberal government is throwing its support behind the following recommendations:

* The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) should improve its marketing of B.C. liquor products in stores, developing new opportunities for product placement and innovative promotional and educational materials.

* Government should work with industry and tourism associations to develop promotional materials such as maps, apps and brochures on B.C. wineries, breweries and distilleries.

* Government should work with other Canadian wine-producing jurisdictions to jointly develop thematic wine promotions in each jurisdiction's liquor stores to promote Canadian wine.

* Government should discuss establishing a quality assurance program for B.C. craft beer and artisan-distilled spirits (similar to the VQA wine program).

* Manufacturers should be able to establish low-risk tasting venues such as a picnic area as part of their existing licence without the need to apply for a specific endorsement. Government should work with industry, local government and First Nations to increase flexibility for tasting options for manufacturers while being sensitive to potential negative impacts, such as noise, on the community.

* Allow manufacturers to offer patrons liquor that was not produced on site (e.g., a winery could sell a beer to a visitor).

* Government should consult with the Agricultural Land Commission about amending the Agricultural Land Commission Act regulations to allow manufacturers operating within the Agricultural Land Reserve to allow more people in consumption areas (e.g. lounges) and to sell liquor that was not produced on site.

* Government should consult with industry and review the minimum requirements to obtain a brewery, winery or distillery licence. Government should also consider how these requirements are regulated by LCLB and LDB to ensure transparency and an effective regulatory system.

* Government should permit B.C. liquor manufacturers to offer products for sample and sale at temporary off-site retail locations (e.g., farmers' markets), with appropriate conditions. The decision about whether to allow vintners, brewers and distillers to showcase their products at a particular location will be left to the location management (e.g., farmers' market association).

* Allow patrons to buy bottles of liquor to take home that are showcased at festivals or competitions. Consider amending SOLs issued to festivals and competitions, or allow BC Liquor or private retail stores to operate a temporary store on site as the means to provide for these sales.

* Allow manufacturers to have off-site locations where they can sample and sell their products to the public (e.g., permanent tasting rooms in a downtown store).

* Provide a more streamlined and time-sensitive application process to allow facilities such as ski hills and golf courses to temporarily extend their licensed area to another part of the property (e.g., a patio near a ski-hill gondola lift or a temporary patio near a golf clubhouse).

B.C. is home to 269 wineries, 76 breweries, and 27 distilleries, according to the government.

Comments (25) Add New Comment
Wow! All that for nothing. Fucking idiots...
Rating: +32
Where is the stuff that will benefit consumers... this just benefits producers. Lets get booze in the grocery stores now!
Rating: +14
Is this the way the government listens to the public? We want liquor in our grocery stores and there's nothing said of that!!!
Rating: +10
Julia Reed
So what about small venues that want a special occasion licence and can't get one. That also promote local wineries and local beer and cider.
Rating: +13
Grocery store beer will only be Budweiser and Canadian... Pass... They both taste like shit and they're owned by multi-national corporate conglomerates...
Rating: +1
So fuck all for consumers and more pay offs for the industry.
This country is a joke.
Rating: +11
Johnny Wishbone
I will be spending my tourist dollars elsewhere from idiotically regulated BC. Even Washington State has far better wine etc choices with far more available. The ferry fares are not a total rip off like in BC too. Check the line ups at the border. People are going south to enjoy themselves. Shopping is only part of the allure.

BC is a beautiful province regulated by a parasitic class. In the end, the parasite always kills the host.
Rating: +10
How about we start with cold beer and wine in Liquor stores and work up from there.
Rating: +16
I kept reading in case they got it wrong, there might acutally be a policy that would bring BC into the 21st century on liquor policy. Apparently however, the late seventies of the last century as far as the government-that-only-won-by-not-losing could accomplish.
Rating: +11
Thank you for your wine, California
You can clearly see the MLA, the Honourable John Yap who is responsible for these recommendations couldn't successfully operate a lemonade stand. With worthless recommendations like this BC should just totally forget about having a wine and beer industry. They are a joke anyway. Check out what Australia does in that area.

It must have been time to slaughter the golden goose BC Liberal style. I thought this party was elected on the perception that they were "business minded". Oh just yet another bungled portfolio to help their "friends"

The BC Liberals were talking about changing their name. Let's call the party the "BC Cross Boarder Holiday and Cheap US Gas Party. They're doing their best to encourage tourism in Wash, Oregon, and California. Say good bye to millions in tourism revenue sent away.
Rating: +12
Alan Layton
It does seem like it's all being done to bolster the industry...which is not a bad thing considering it will create more jobs. Does anyone know the stats on people for and against grocery store booze?

I agree with OutdoorVenturer that the beer/wine will be crap in a grocery store. I'm sticking with the LCB or private stores regardless.
Rating: -8
And nothing in there about family friendly bars either. Its all about business and nothing about the people of BC.
Rating: +7
There are a lot of things in there that will require the government to do more, manage more, get in the way more. And with the result of costing the taxpayer more for more regulation and more government lame-o marketing. Just what we need! (not)
Rating: +5
@R2 - what a radical idea. Let's break the boundaries and suggest that non-alcolohic beverages could be sold there too. Like cola to go with the vodka. Oh, my bad, I remember now, the suggestion was made and the government ignored it.
Rating: -3
Alan Layton
@Thank you for your wine, California - you do realize that Australia is a country and BC is a province within a country don't you? Just checking.
Rating: +7

What do the stats say about people wanting booze in grocery stores?

I dunno.

A more pressing question to me is: is the selling of booze something that seems like an appropriate government activity?

To me, it just isn't.

Taxing the stuff, making sure it's safe, regulating the sale to minors, faciliating trade fairs to promote the BC industry - yes. We do all that for any of our BC industries.

But we don't buy lumber in BC government lumber stores. We don't buy milk in BC government milk stores. We don't rent BC movies from the... etc.

Now, I get why booze is different. It's sinful and evil.

But we don't sell sinful evil underwear at the BC government sinful evil underwear store, either.

These stores have to go IMO. That's really want the Clark govt means by "21st century" - they are clearly wanting to manage the transition with baby steps.
Rating: -7
BC will never give up the cash-cow that is the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

But I agree with RUK - this is not a business the government should be in.

Even Ontario has better policy and that's saying a lot. Here (Ontario) you can buy a case of beer cold, on a Sunday AND at a case (discounted) price.

fuck BC's liquor policies.
Rating: +9
Drew Whiteside
Those of you whining for booze in grocery stores do realize it won't be any cheaper than the Government Stores, right? Private liquor stores receive a 15% discount off the shelf price at the BC Liquor Stores and must buy from the government, and it will be the same for any grocery store (If they were even allowed to sell it themselves, it would more likely be a government store inside the grocery store.)

The real issue is that people want cheaper alcohol, not liquor is grocery stores, but they're too scared to ask for it, and the government isn't about to give up their ridiculous tax revenues from it (Remember, they make money from it, either selling it from their own shelves, or selling it to private stores, where it also is taxed on top of that.)
Rating: 0
Thank you for your wine, California
"@Thank you for your wine, California - you do realize that Australia is a country and BC is a province within a country don't you? Just checking."

Australia has a wine industry that has successfully found a world market, quite unlike BC ever likely will. They have done that by selling very good wine world wide at reasonable prices. They wisely their used their success in the Australian market to finance their international expansion. Perhaps we could learn something here.
Lowering the taxes, thereby lowering prices of BC wines would increase demand.

Without a reasonably priced quality product, a market will never be found.

I am aware that Australia is actually a country and BC is a province. Thanks for checking. You imply a different marketing strategy should be be employed. Like a bad, over taxed and overpriced wine industry is going to be somehow successful for example?
Rating: 0

You make a great deal of sense about why people really want liquour reform, i.e. cost.

To me, I am just finding it bizarre and an anachronism of the bluestocking age that the government operates retail outlets.

While not as key as the separation of church and state, surely there should be a separation of state and retail at least in theory.

As for the discount issue, I think it is reasonable to have a LCB because alcohol is a powerful intoxicant and the stuff should be imported and distributed under some sort of control. So by all means have the govt-controlled chain of supply and warehouse, until it gets to the retail level.
Rating: -2


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