Province Changes Liquor Event Policy

The provincial government has amended its policy regarding Special Event Permits (SEP). General Managers may exempt SEP holders from donating profits to a charitable purpose if events are deemed to be of municipal, provincial, national or international significance. Local governments will be responsible for determining whether a proposed event is municipally significant.

Previously, if a SEP holder charged over the liquor cost recovery price list, all profits had to be transferred to a charitable purpose. Under the new policy, the General Manager may exempt SEP holders from donating event profits to a charitable purpose if events are deemed to be of municipal, provincial, national or international significance. While the Province will consider exemption requests for events that are provincially, nationally or internationally significant, local governments will be responsible for determining whether a proposed event is municipally significant.

As of February 26, 2018, local governments may designate an event to be municipally significant by municipal resolution or a letter from a delegated municipal official. Local Boards and Councils will have the ability, through bylaw, to delegate staff to comment on behalf of a local government.

This policy change follows provincial engagement with local governments and the Local Government Working Group on Liquor Policy in August and September 2017. On September 19, 2017, following discussions among the local government members of the Working Group, UBCM sent a letter to the Province providing feedback towards this proposed policy. Citing concerns including the administrative burden on local governments, verifying promoters have received approvals, and negative impacts on charities and other liquor establishments, the letter made the following recommendations:

  1. That the Province work with local governments to create a more detailed SEP policy proposal that provides some clarification and addresses all major concerns brought forward by local governments.
  2. More specifically, that the Province work with local governments to create a more detailed set of guidelines for declaring a “municipally significant” event, which local governments may choose to accept, modify or reject based on their discretion and desire to opt-in to this proposed SEP policy.

The Province announced this policy change on January 10, 2018.

Questions regarding this policy change may be directed to Joshua Huska, Senior Policy and Legislative Analyst, Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, at (250) 952-5753.

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