BC Liquor laws not better with age
Oct 23, 2013 / 11:47 am
The Ramada Inn was stock full of liquor enthusiasts last night (Tuesday) voicing their strong and varied opinions about the future of the liquor laws in BC.
The open town-hall style meeting attended by about 100 citizens was hosted by Parliamentary Secretary John Yap, who’s been meeting with people across the province as part of the policy review he has undertaken
Customers and business owners alike attended the meeting from every corner of the Okanagan and as far away as the Shuswap,
Many voices were heard over the 90 minute session; from wanting longer hours and more options, to cold beer and wine in grocery stores, drinking in public, to leaving it all alone so private cold-beer-and-wine stores can stay in business.
There was also a large focus on liquor licensing and how it negatively affects local restaurants, pubs, businesses and event planners - not to mention the processing time it takes to get one of those licenses, if you even can.
An interesting theme of the night which frustrated the crowd was that although the discussions were well received and Yap was thanked over and over for attending and listening to their concerns, his answer to every concern addressed was, ‘Make sure you go on the website and record your comments so they can be considered;’ leaving many wondering if they were being heard at all.
Rose’s Pub owner Rose Sexsmith was one of the first to speak frustrated with new rules placed on her business that makes it feel far more like a nightclub than a local pub
“They would now have us wand & ID every single person walking into our place regardless of age, who they are, whether they are past or present employees, family, friends or the regulars we've had for 20 years. They wanted this to be from 11 a.m. until close seven days a week,” says Sexsmith.
She doesn’t understand why this new unnecessary rule was placed on her and not on other local pubs only minutes away.
“Why can someone who can't come into our place because they don't have ID no matter who they are or how old they are, can then walk a few steps to another licenced establishment and be served without being ID'd or getting wanded. This makes no sense.”
According to Sexsmith of the seven ‘night clubs’ in town, the four on Leon must follow these new Terms & Conditions, but out of the hundred or so Liquor Primary's like her pub they are the only one that is affected.
She ended her comments to Yap saying, “I really hope you heard me,” showing little confidence that he had.
A local orchard owner spoke several times over his frustration that he cannot even get a permanent liquor license. His orchard has turned into a concert venue and he cannot serve the way he wants.
“We had two customers, a 92-year-old and a 93-year-old attending one of our concerts and both asked the same question, can I have a glass of wine and we have to say umm sorry.”
Others asked for cold beer and wine to be added to government liquor stores, or allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol as well, to which the private liquor stores fought back saying that they would all be out of business if those changes were made.
‘Cold Beer and Wine’ and location is the only advantage they have over BCL stores and without those advantages there would be no business for them.
Several immigrants to Kelowna from Europe argued that our stringent laws make alcohol abuse, especially in teens, a much bigger problem because we are not open about alcohol in our society and its safe use.
Drinking in public was also mentioned with large applause from the crowd.
One man suggesting that if he wants to have a glass of wine while watching the fireworks he should be able to damn well do it without fearing arrest.
Mike Koutsantonis of Olympia Greek Taverna shared his annoyance over the inability for his delivery drivers to bring a bottle of wine to the house with the food order.
“Why can a taxi or alcohol delivery services deliver a bottle of wine to a private home but I cannot add a bottle of wine that is already in my restaurant to a delivery food order? Customers often ask if I can add a bottle of wine to their order and I can’t.”
And Raudz Regional Table co-owner Audrey Surrao was irate over the length of time her new Micro Bar business has stayed empty because the liquor license has yet to come through many months later.
Yap told the crowd he has heard from people all over BC and it's clear some changes need to be made, but that all of society has to be considered.
“Whether we are talking about it today or many years ago the fact is alcohol is an important part of a balanced healthy lifestyle that many choose to partake in - in fact it’s estimated over 85% of British Columbians use alcohol as part of their lifestyle,” said Yap.
“But [he warned] there are also the side effects like negative health effects, addictions and underage drinking, and society is rightly concerned about these things.”
90-minutes later Yap and co-host MLA Norm Letnick thanked the guests for all their comments and reminded them to add their thoughts concerns and suggestions to the website.
Yap will prepare a report based on his consultations that will be submitted to the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice. Submissions can be made through email, letters and social media until October 31.
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