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.
- Liquor sales are now allowed in grocery stores in one of two models - wine-on-shelves or store-in-store.
- To date, the Surrey South Point Save-On-Foods has partnered with the BC Wine Institute to offer wine on its shelves.
- Approximately 500 different B.C. wines are carried at the store.
- BC Liquor Stores can now offer refrigeration, extended operating hours and Sunday openings.
- 170 BC Liquor Stores have extended their operating hours.
- 161 BC Liquor Stores are now open on Sundays, plus another 28 that open seasonally on Sundays.
- There are currently 13 BC Liquor Stores and counting with full refrigeration sections - and more than a dozen other stores that currently offer some refrigerated products.
- Liquor sales at farmers' markets - wine, beer, cider and spirit manufacturers are now able to sell and serve samples of their products at farmers' markets, as long as the market and the municipality approve.
- Kids in pubs and legions - more than 350 liquor-primaries now allow kids, up until 10 p.m., so that families can have brunch at a local pub or enjoy a meal together.
- Happy hour - licensees such as pubs, restaurants and lounges selling drinks by the glass, may alter their liquor prices throughout the course of the day.
- Beer-garden fencing - government has 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.
- British Columbians in all areas of the province can now apply for SOLs online - and even from their mobile or tablet.
Craft beer and other breweries:
- A new, graduated mark-up system for beer took effect on April 1, 2015, helping small- and medium-sized breweries grow their product lines and create jobs.
- In the past two years alone, nearly 50 brewery licences have been issued throughout B.C. - bringing us to a total of 112 breweries in B.C. to date.
- This year, applications are underway for 20 new craft breweries - helping to boost the economy, create jobs, and open up more selection for consumers.
- The craft beer industry is estimated to employ over 2,500 people, with an additional 1,500 working in brewpubs owned by the craft brewers.
- The majority of B.C. breweries are smaller scale producers - they make up more than 75% of the registered breweries in B.C.
- Dollar sales from these smaller breweries - those producing less than 15,000 hectolitres of beer annually - have almost tripled over the past five years.
- Breweries can now apply to have an on-site consumption area, such as a lounge, special event, picnic or tour area.
Wineries and 100% B.C. wine:
- Government fully supports the wine industry in B.C. and has been working hard to create a sustainable model that offers British Columbians both the selection and quality they are looking for.
- There are approximately 110 B.C. wineries selling their products directly to customers at 70 different farmers' markets around the province this year.
- The wine-on-shelves model for grocery stores was created - allowing licensed grocery stores to sell 100% B.C. wine off the shelf.
- Government is working on a plan to auction off a limited number of wine licences specifically for this wine-on-shelves grocery model.
- Work continues with the industry to boost tourism opportunities for B.C.'s wineries, as well as other liquor manufacturers.
Tourism and hospitality:
- Ski hills and golf courses can apply for a permanent licence endorsement to extend their licensed activities to outdoor areas on their property until 10 p.m., up to 26 times a calendar year, rather than having to apply and pay separately for each extension.
- Licensees may now transfer small amounts of liquor between similar types of establishments. Also, licensees may also store liquor in secure, off-site locations.
- Licensed wine stores and private liquor stores may now sell their products at food and beverage festivals licensed under a SOL.
Private liquor retailers:
- B.C.'s new wholesale pricing model also took effect April 1, 2015 - providing increased fairness and an even footing for liquor retailers.
- The new wholesale pricing model was designed to collect approximately the same amount of revenue for government from each product category as existed prior to April 1. Within each category, some products go up in price and some go down - for the vast majority of products, the change is very minor in either direction.
- The five-kilometre rule has been eliminated. This will allow more flexibility for private liquor stores to relocate around the province - into grocery stores or otherwise.
- The one-kilometre rule will remain in place for private liquor stores and will be expanded to BC Liquor Stores and independent wine stores that choose to expand their licence to sell beer and spirits.
- Steps are being taken to further the separation of the Liquor Distribution Branch's wholesale and retail divisions to ensure fairness - aligning with requests from private retailers.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice