BC’s liquor laws continue to evolve as various legislative amendments are steadily rolled out. The latest of these changes will likely be a welcome one for breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Previously, these manufacturers were only allowed to sell beverages that they produced themselves. As of July 28, 2015, they will be allowed to sell a limited amount of liquor that they did not produce. However, the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch indicates that there will be certain limitations, such as:
- The liquor not produced by that manufacturer is to be for consumption only in that manufacturer’s lounge or special event areas (SEA) – no retail sales will be permitted;
- No more than 20% of the total value of liquor purchased for the lounge or SEA can be from liquor that the manufacturer did not produce; and
- Certain zoning restrictions may apply to the types of liquor that may be served.
These changes are intended to create more choice and convenience for consumers and to support BC tourism. This will also be good news to those who are hosting a wedding reception or other event at these locations, as it means they will no longer need to apply for a separate Special Occasion License. Over the past couple years, BC has also seen a number of other liquor law reforms, which include:
- Allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol with certain restrictions and eligibility requirements;
- Introducing happy hour and allowing liquor licensees to alter their liquor prices during the course of the day – but also requiring a per drink minimum price to reflect serving size;
- Allowing BC Liquor Stores to offer refrigeration, and stay open for longer hours with the addition of Sundays; and
- Requiring all liquor retailers, including BC Liquor Stores, to purchase their product from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch at a common, wholesale price (rather than the previous model which offered a discount scheme depending on the type of retailer).
Lindsay Kenney LLP