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Alcohol barriers coming down

Festival goers and sports enthusiasts, as well as the hotel industry and its patrons, will benefit from a third set of recommendations highlighted today from the now released final report on the BC Liquor Policy Review.

In addition, government has announced its full support for all 73 recommendations.

A number of these recommendations require significant policy work and implementation planning, which will be done over the coming months.

The recommendations highlighted today will streamline the application process for special occasion licences (SOLs) and refresh outdated liquor policies around beer garden fencing, opening up new opportunities for BC's multitude of festivals, special events and non-profit organizations.

Sports and entertainment venues, as well as the hotel industry, will also see positive changes as the Province continues to modernize rules around liquor licensing.

"We promised British Columbians we would overhaul BC.s outdated liquor laws - and we are keeping that promise," says Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.

"As we release the final report today, you'll see 73 wide-ranging reforms that will positively affect organizations - from local community festivals to music concerts, from hockey games to hotels - in communities all across BC."

Specifically, with the set of Liquor Policy Review recommendations announced today, the BC government is supporting:

  • Community festivals and entertainment events, by eliminating beer garden fencing, simplifying the SOL process and moving applications online.
  • Consumers, by allowing the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events and enabling hosts to serve UBrew/UVin at events, such as weddings.
  • Stadiums and arenas throughout the province, by increasing flexibility around licensing, and permitting spirit-based liquor sales in the stands.
  • The hotel industry and its patrons, by making licensing changes that will extend room service hours and allow guests to move more freely with alcoholic beverages.   

"These recommendations are a direct reflection of the input I received from British Columbians, festival organizers, non-profit organizations and businesses - both small and large - during the Liquor Policy Review," says John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform.

"Government's support for these recommendations will help transform BC's outdated liquor laws in a host of different ways - enhancing convenience, sparking the economy and creating new opportunities for businesses and non-profits."

Once legislative changes are made, festival goers will be able to roam the grounds with a pint, rather than being restricted to a cordoned-off beer garden.

This will help decrease costs for festival organizers and allow parents with kids to enjoy a beer and remain with their family, as they might at a hockey game. In addition, mixed spirit drinks - rather than only beer, wine, cider and cooler products - will also be permitted at events like music festivals and regattas, with continued restriction of sales to minors.

"Opening up music festivals to whole-site licensing over the 'beer garden' model is a very positive move," says Bob D'Eith, executive director of Music BC.

"This will allow families to stay together at events, reduce costs for festival organizers and make the festival experience that much better for all fans of live music. We are optimistic that this and other positive changes announced today will help to keep BC venues and festivals going strong for years to come."

The recommendations announced today will also affect stadiums and arenas throughout the province. Currently, BC's stadiums and arenas are permitted to serve beer and wine to those in the general seating area, and spirits to those in private boxes or premium seats.

Once these changes are made in law, these facilities will be able to serve spirits, such as rum, vodka or gin, to all patrons, no matter where they are seated.

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