Liquor Policy Changes Underway

Modernization of provincial liquor laws is currently underway.  The Provincial government has begun implementation of the 73 recommendations outlined in the Liquor Policy Review (LPR) released in January.  The Province has indicated that it will continue to work with the Local Government Working Group on Liquor Policy in the development of future liquor policy, and will ensure that the views of local government are taken into consideration.

The Government has announced implementation of the following nine LPR recommendations:

  • Happy Hours (LPR #16)
  • Transferring Small Amounts of Liquor between Establishments (LPR #61)
  • Patrons Carrying Liquor Between Adjoining Establishments (LPR  #63)
  • Family SOLs can serve UBrew/UVin or homemade wine, beer and cider (LPR #53)
  • UBrew/UVin Licensees May Now Own Other Liquor-related Establishments (LPR #70)
  • Liquor Service without Food in Food-primary Establishments (LPR #36)
  • Liquor Sales at Farmer’s Markets (LPR #31)
  • Liquor Sales of Product Showcased at Food/Beverage Festivals (LPR #32)
  • Minors in Liquor-primary Establishments (LPR #34)
  • Outlined below are a number of liquor policy changes that may be of interest to local government:

Happy Hours and Minimum Prices

  • Liquor primaries, liquor primary clubs, food primaries, and manufacturer lounge and special event endorsement areas may vary the price of liquor at any time during liquor service hours as long as the price of liquor in each category does not fall below a prescribed minimum price (roughly equivalent to $3.00 per standard drink). For the above named licence types, the previous requirement that licensees not sell product below the LDB purchase price no longer applies. Licensees may also vary the price of liquor for certain groups (e.g. “team night” price reductions for players in uniform).  As with most other Canadian jurisdictions, “two for one” drink specials are still prohibited, as they are considered a strategy likely to promote intoxication.
  • Please see Policy Directive 14-07 for more details.

Liquor Service without Food in Food-Primary Establishments

  • Food-primary licensees must continue to focus on food service, with a full menu available whenever liquor service is available. However, patrons do not need to order food if they do not wish to eat.
  • This is consistent with existing policy on this issue and for that reason a new policy directive has not been created. A recommendation on this matter was included in the Liquor Policy Review report to confirm government’s position that patrons may order liquor without food in restaurants, provided the overall focus of the restaurant does not shift to that of a bar.

Liquor Sales at Farmer’s Markets

  • Wineries, breweries, and distilleries with an on-site store endorsement may apply for a Farmer’s Market Authorization to sell their products at farmer’s markets. There is no application fee, however separate authorizations are required for each farmer’s market that they sell at (i.e. the Penticton and the Osoyoos Farmer’s Markets). The decision to allow liquor vendors is left to individual Farmer’s Markets, subject to the meeting of specific criteria (e.g. emphasis on local produce and related farm products) and alcohol sales must be permitted by local bylaws.  Licensees are responsible for confirming that the Farmer’s Market complies with local bylaws around the sale of packaged liquor, and that the market where they plan to sell meets the eligibility criteria.
  • Please see Policy Directive 14-11 for more details on eligibility criteria, how to obtain a farmers market authorization, and rules related to sales and sampling.

Minors in Liquor-primary establishments

  • Liquor-primary and liquor-primary club licensees can apply for a ‘family foodservice’ term and condition on their licence. This is intended to allow pubs and other establishments that offer foodservice to expand the range of dining options that they offer to their customers.  Minors may be in the establishment until 10:00 p.m., provided that they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. To qualify, the licensee must make available a selection of appetizers and main courses (or equivalent), using either their own kitchen, or one owned by someone else that is located on the same site.
  • A high volume of applications is anticipated, and it is recommended that licensees allow three months for processing once a complete application is received.
  • Please see Policy Directive 14-13 for more details.

For more information about the BC Liquor Policy Review, read the final report, or learn more online.

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