Liquor Policy Issues Under Review

UBCM has been invited to participate in a review of BC's liquor laws [PDF - 186 KB] and is looking to meet with Parliamentary Secretary John Yap early in the fall.  We would welcome your views on changes to Provincial liquor policy that would assist local government.

Local governments have a strong interest in liquor policy because of the impact it can have on local neighbourhoods and community events.   Local governments have used its zoning and business licensing powers to ensure that neighbourhood concerns such as noise, parking and nuisance issues are minimized.  It has worked cooperatively with provincial authorities to undertake enforcement measures to address liquor problems when they arise in the local community.  UBCM would like to see these measures maintained going forward.

The Province has indicated that the liquor policy review is to be guided by the following principles:
  • Government revenue is maintained or increased;
  • Minimize health and social harms caused by liquor;
  • Balance economic and social interests by ensuring public safety;
  • Be evidence-based and transparent;
  • Respect obligations under collective agreements and international and inter-provincial trade agreements.

The review is to consider all aspects of liquor policy, including licensing, control and distribution.  The goal is to create a licensing system that responds to the marketplace, provides flexibility for businesses, and encourages investment in the hospitality, tourism and agrifoods sectors.  Some of the issues that have been identified by the Province for review are allowing minors to be accompanied by a parent or guardian in a pub that serves food during daylight hours; the sale of local wines and liquors at farmers markets; licensing of establishments like spas; and, the time delays in the approval of bar and pub licences.

The review is to be open for public comments online starting in September and consultations with stakeholders are expected to end by October 31, 2013.  A report is be submitted to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton by November 25, 2013. 

UBCM will continue to review this issue and will be consulting with a staff working group on liquor policy for further direction.

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