BC Liquor Policy Review – Results

Engagement Summary

In the fall of 2013, Parliamentary Secretary John Yap hosted a public consultation with citizens and stakeholders to review B.C. liquor policy. Input was gathered online, through stakeholder meetings and submissions, and by email. A final report was submitted to Attorney General, and Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton in early 2014.
The B.C. Liquor Policy Review made 73 recommendations to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws and bring convenience, choice and selection to consumers. These changes also support B.C.’s liquor manufacturers, along with the tourism and hospitality industry, and private liquor retailers.

Timeframe: September 14 – October 31, 2013

Input Received

  • 4,364 online comments
  • 41,195 citizen comment ratings
  • 3,587 email submissions
  • 4,892 mentions on Twitter

Input leads to action:
As of April 1, 2016, a total of 41 have been implemented, and government is continuing to work on the remaining recommendations.
Highlights from 2016:

  • A minimum price for retail alcohol purchases has been set to help ensure that liquor with very low wholesale prices is not retailed at prices that may encourage abuse or overconsumption.
  • Guests at overnight accommodation spots such as a hotel can now order a cocktail through room service 24/7, provided food is also available.
  • People can now host hobby brewer and hobby vintner competitions using Special Occasion Licences.
  • The Province is supporting increased consumer choice and encouraging the growth of B.C. small businesses by modernizing policy to allow any establishment that sells liquor to provide samples in a socially responsible manner.

Highlights from 2015:

  • Liquor sales are now allowed in grocery stores using one of two models – wine-on-shelves or store-in-store.
  • B.C. small businesses benefitted from removal of the lounge restriction for restaurants which are no longer legally have to have a separate lounge area in order for customers to enjoy a drink if they don’t want food.
  • People can now enjoy a signature beverage at a manufacturer’s on-site lounge OR choose from an assortment of other alcohol drinks produced off-site.
  • Special Occasion Licence applications, used for events such as small weddings, club meetings, church banquets, sports tournaments, music festivals etc., have been moved to a simpler online process.
  • B.C. introduced a new wholesale model for liquor purchases – all retail stores in B.C. now pay the same wholesale price for liquor.
  • BC Liquor Stores and private retailers are now operating from the same set of rules, allowing for greater transparency and competition, and enabling government stores to offer refrigeration, extended operating hours and Sunday openings.
  • Artisan markets have the green light to allow liquor manufacturers to sell their beer, cider, wine and spirits. This builds on the 2014 liquor policy review change allowing B.C. liquor sales at farmers’ markets.
  • Craft brewers can now showcase their products at the closest BC Liquor Store – even before they’ve proven themselves in the larger marketplace.
  • Craft brewers can grow their business and produce more beer without being worried about a large jump in the amount of mark-up they’ll have to pay if they go over a certain production amount – the mark-up is now gradual.

Highlights from 2014:

  • Licensees such as pubs, restaurants and lounges selling drinks by the glass, may alter their liquor prices throughout the course of the day to host “happy hour”.
  • Government removed the requirement for fencing around beer gardens at festivals and special events, provided there are no public-safety concerns.
  • Customers don’t have to buy food to enjoy a beverage at a food-primary – the overall focus still needs to be on food service, with a full menu offered whenever liquor is being served.
  • Customers can now carry their own drinks from one adjoining licensed area to another, such as from a pub to an adjoining restaurant.
  • Mixed-spirit drinks are now allowed at Special Occasion Licence (SOL) events, like festivals, as well as at arenas and stadiums.
  • More than 350 pubs and legions now allow kids, up until 10 p.m., so that families can have brunch at a local pub or enjoy a meal together.

You can read more about the engagement at:

Recommendations implemented to date

BC Liquor Policy Review Final Report

The ideas submitted by British Columbians

Industry and stakeholder perspectives