VICTORIA - The B.C. government has outlined a unique, two-part model for liquor sales in grocery stores that will ensure convenience and choice for consumers, promote B.C. products and create jobs.
Following the B.C. Liquor Policy Review - one of the B.C. government's most successful public engagements - Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform John Yap recommended that government respond to calls for convenience by consumers and allow for liquor sales in grocery stores. Government accepted Yap's recommendations and is moving to implement a two-part model.
First, the "store-within-a-store" model - which provides convenience for customers with same-cart shopping - will apply to private liquor licences that are transferred into or sold to a grocery store, as well as to government liquor licences that are transferred into grocery stores. This model will allow for sales of beer, wine and spirits through separate cashiers, safeguarding health and safety and ensuring restricted access to alcohol by minors.
A second model will be flexible to accommodate VQA licences, as well as a limited number of new licences that sell VQA wine in grocery stores. Under this model, VQA wine will be allowed to be sold off designated shelves within the store, and purchased at designated check-out tills. With this change - as with all of B.C.'s liquor reform changes - protecting health and public safety will continue to be a paramount consideration.
Work continues to determine further details around this two-part model and to clearly define "grocery store." However, as recommended by Yap, convenience stores will not be included in this definition and the current moratorium on the number of private liquor stores (LRSs) will remain in place.
With the goal to implement this two-part model in early 2015, additional changes will be made to create a more open, fair market in which both government and privately-owned liquor stores have new opportunities to grow.
As part of this additional work, the B.C. government will be developing a new price-based wholesale pricing model for wine and spirits distributed by the Liquor Distribution Branch, so that the price all liquor retailers pay is consistent across the board.
The Province is in the process of updating its regulations around the transfer and relocation of liquor store licences, including the elimination of the five kilometre restriction on the movement of licences. This regulatory review will also consider the question of any concurrently introduced fees or levies that may be applicable to the transfer or relocation of licences to ensure that taxpayers will benefit from the enhanced value created in the business.
A set of amendments to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act was introduced today to accommodate this two-part grocery model and lay the legislative groundwork for 14 other recommendations from the Liquor Policy Review, which will come into effect at later dates.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton -
"Our framework for liquor sales in grocery stores lays the foundation for a flexible and unique model that will continue to protect health and public safety, enhance convenience and choice for consumers and drive our economy forward with the promotion of made-in-B.C. products. We committed to British Columbians and to the industry that we would act quickly to modernize B.C.'s liquor laws - and we're delivering on that promise by bringing in an initial set of amendments to our liquor laws today."
Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform John Yap -
"During the B.C. Liquor Policy Review consultations, I heard that consumers want convenience and choice and the industry wants government to be flexible and promote an open, fair market - these changes address both of those calls. Our province is well on its way to having a unique, two-part grocery model that aligns with modern expectations and will grow B.C.'s economy. As we proceed with our balanced approach, we will continue to put a significant emphasis on protecting health and public safety with each one of these changes."
Factsheet on B.C.'s two-part model for grocery store liquor sales: http://ow.ly/ujJz0
Factsheet on B.C.'s commitment to protect health and public safety: http://ow.ly/ujJte
Artist renderings of what B.C.'s new two-part grocery model could look like: http://bit.ly/1kB3dlT
Find the final report on the B.C. Liquor Policy Review here: http://bit.ly/1beqi8i
Learn about Parliamentary Secretary Yap's grocery recommendations: http://bit.ly/1gA1uHL
Learn about Province's decision to explore liquor sales in grocery stores: http://bit.ly/1fD8VQc
A backgrounder follows.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice
Liquor Control and Licensing Act amendments
The amendments introduced today to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act will lay the groundwork for future implementation of 15 out of 73 recommendations from the B.C. Liquor Policy Review.
While a complete re-write of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act is planned for spring 2015, government is adopting a phased-in approach to modernizing the legislation. The first step is to introduce amendments, modernize outdated provisions and reform the current act, which will allow for faster implementation of key recommendations.
A timeline for implementation of this set of 15 recommendations is listed below. Policy work, consultations, regulations and/or further legislation are required for the remaining Liquor Policy Review recommendations. The implementation timeline for the remaining recommendations will be announced at a later date.
- Permit B.C. liquor manufacturers to offer products for sample and sale at temporary off-site retail locations (e.g., farmers' markets), with appropriate conditions. The decision about whether to allow vintners, brewers and distillers to showcase their products at a particular location will be left to the location management (e.g., farmers' market association) (recommendation 31).
- Allow patrons to buy bottles of liquor to take home that are showcased at festivals or competitions. Consider amending Special Occasion Licences (SOLs) issued to festivals and competitions, or allow BC Liquor or private retail stores to operate a temporary store on site as the means to provide for these sales (recommendation 32).
- Permit licensees to offer time-limited drink specials (e.g., happy hours), provided the price is not below a prescribed minimum consistent with those advocated by health advocates (recommendation 16).
- Allow hosts to serve UBrew/UVin or homemade beer or wine at SOL events (e.g. weddings, family reunions) (recommendation 53).
- Permit licensees to store liquor in secure, off-site locations, subject to notifying the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (recommendation 60).
- Allow individual establishments that are part of a larger company (e.g., chain outlets) to transfer small amounts of liquor between locations (recommendation 61).
- Permit the owners and family members of UBrews and UVins to own other liquor-related establishments (recommendation 70).
- Provide regulatory authority for the LCLB to require social responsibility public education material to be posted in all licensed establishments and liquor stores (recommendation 4).
- Expand and enhance Serving it Right (SIR), the provincial government's responsible beverage service program (recommendation 7).
- Due to the varying size and focus of licensed establishments, consideration should be given to how different types of penalties (e.g. a suspension vs. a monetary penalty) may impact a licensee and staff (recommendation 12).
- Manufacturers should be able to establish low-risk tasting venues such as a picnic area as part of their existing licence without the need to apply for a specific endorsement. Government should work with industry, local government and First Nations to increase flexibility for tasting options for manufacturers while being sensitive to potential negative impacts, such as noise, on the community (recommendation 27).
- Allow manufacturers to offer patrons liquor that was not produced on site (e.g., a winery could sell a beer to a visitor) (recommendation 28).
- Provide a more streamlined and time-sensitive application process to allow facilities such as ski hills and golf courses to temporarily extend their licensed area to another part of the property (e.g., a patio near a ski-hill gondola lift or a temporary patio near a golf clubhouse) (recommendation 62).
- The Province should develop and implement a retail model that meets consumer demands for more convenience by permitting the sale of liquor in grocery stores. Government should continue to restrict the total number of retail outlets and require separation of grocery products and liquor. This reflects the views of health and safety advocates and the acknowledged safety benefits of restricting minors' access to liquor (recommendation 19).
- Permit hobby brewers and vintners to apply for a SOL to host competition events, allowing homemade beers and wines to be sampled by both judges and the public (recommendation 50).
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice