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.