MLA concerned about impacts of liquor licence changes on Vancouver movie theatres
NDP arts and culture critic Spencer Chandra Herbert is raising concerns about revised liquor licence regulations that he says create additional problems for some movie theatre operators.
Herbert said that while a recent change made by the B.C. government means that venues like the Rio Theatre can show films outside of their primary liquor licence hours, the directive has created new complications.
According to Herbert, the changes made by the province now prohibit theatres from obtaining a special events liquor licence for any event when the primary purpose is the screening of films or broadcasts, such as a film festival.
The Vancouver-West End MLA noted that until now, it has been common practice for independent theatres such as Denman Cinemas and Van City Theatre to rent their space out to groups that apply for temporary licences to serve liquor at special events, such as film festivals and screenings.
“They get a special event permit, they serve a little wine before the film, and that’s how they do it,” Herbert told the Straight by phone. “But with the government’s decision, they’ve now banned that, effectively.”
Herbert said he has written to Minister Rich Coleman, who recently gained responsibility for liquor policies, expressing his concerns about the impacts of the policy directive.
“They’ve been doing this for years, probably decades, without problems—no complaints,” he claimed. “And so, for the government to take this step, a rather arbitrary step, without any evidence, boggles the mind. Rather than moving forward, the government’s actually been going in the reverse.”
Herbert said he’s hoping to get the directive changed. He also plans to continue advocating for broader changes to B.C. liquor laws. The MLA tabled a petition with over 2,000 signatures last year calling for the laws to be updated, particularly the restrictions affecting movie theatres.