Changes To BC Booze Laws In 2017

Victoria – British Columbians are benefiting from the provincial government’s continued focus on improving consumer choice and convenience, increasing flexibility and reducing red tape for liquor sales and service in B.C.

The Province continued updating antiquated liquor policies in 2016, implementing more recommendations from the 2013 Liquor Policy Review. One of the largest public engagements in provincial history, the review garnered a record amount of feedback from British Columbians, businesses, industry associations, health advocates, local governments and other stakeholders. The ministry listened to that feedback and is taking action to bring B.C.’s liquor laws into the 21st century.

In 2016, the Province made changes to enable British Columbians and visitors to:

  • purchase 100% B.C. wine on grocery store shelves in 14 locations and growing;
  • try a broader range of liquor products, including high-end products, before deciding whether to purchase, thanks to larger sample sizes at tastings;
  • order a cocktail through hotel room service 24/7;
  • carry unfinished liquor from hotel and resort licensed establishments directly to their rooms as of January 23, 2017; and
  • showcase their creations through hobby brewer and hobby vintner competitions.

Starting on January 23, 2017, any business in B.C. will be able to apply for a liquor licence. Business involved in the liquor and hospitality industries will benefit from addition policy changes including:

  • growing their craft beer business with a more graduated mark-up scale;
  • preserving cash flow following updated mark-up remittance for craft brewers;
  • charging for liquor samples to recoup cost of higher-end product;
  • allowing two manufactures or agents to provide samples in a liquor store at the same time;
  • applying for a permit to sell liquor at their events and to raise funds for charity;
  • creating unique cocktails through liquor infusions and barrel aging;
  • offering hotel/ resort guests a complementary cocktail upon check in;
  • receiving more timely decisions on their licence applications due to local governments and the Province being able to review liquor licence applications at the same time;
  • applying to operate a licensed patio even if the establishment has no other licensed areas;
  • bid on the right to apply for a wine in grocery licence if eligible;
  • listing their wine with distributors in Quebec and Ontario as a result of a new interprovincial trade agreement; and
  • requesting government reconsider an enforcement decision to avoid a costly court hearing.

“The liquor industry in B.C. is growing and creating jobs as a result of the entrepreneurial spirit, great economy and supportive policy changes government has been making over the past several years,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch. “All of this change means people and communities throughout B.C. are able to enjoy the liquor products created by our fantastic brewers, vintners and distillers in a more relaxed and convenient manner.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Province has implemented 49 out of the 73 recommendations from the 2013 Liquor Policy Review and 64 will be completed when the new Liquor Control and Licensing Act and regulation comes into effect on Jan. 23, 2017.
  • Over the past five years, craft beer sales in B.C. have almost tripled. The B.C. craft beer industry has grown from 54 breweries in 2010 to 125 today, with up to 20 new breweries pending.
  • As of Nov. 2016, 35 craft and 19 commercial distilleries were operating in B.C. The number of craft distilleries has grown considerably – from four in 2010 to 35 today.
  • Since 2001, the number of B.C. wineries has grown from around 70 to 345 today.

Learn More:

Read the full list of Liquor Policy Review recommendations: www2.gov.bc.ca/local/haveyoursay/Docs/liquor_policy_review_report.pdf

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