VANCOUVER - Gone are the days of cordoned-off beer gardens at family-friendly festivals in B.C., thanks to liquor law changes made today that open up new opportunities for B.C. families and the province’s multitude of festivals and special events.
Parents will be able to enjoy a beverage and explore the festival grounds together with their kids, rather than being restricted to a caged-off beer garden. Not only does this enhance convenience for families, it also reduces costs for the non-profits that run B.C.’s unique festivals and special events, meaning more funds can go to the various causes they support.
Public safety will continue to be a top priority. All festivals and public special events that wish to sell alcohol will still need to apply for a special occasion licence (SOL) and may be subject to local government or police approval. For large-scale events that expect more than 500 people, event organizers must submit a site plan that demonstrates a safe, secure environment with controls in place to keep liquor out of the hands of minors.
Today’s changes also refresh additional, outdated liquor policies. Sales of mixed spirits, such as gin and tonic or rum and Coke, are now allowed at SOL events, such as music festivals and regattas, offering more choice and selection for consumers, and creating new opportunities for B.C.’s craft distilleries.
Sports and entertainment venues will also see positive changes, thanks to modernized rules around spirit sales and licensing. Rather than only serving beer and wine to those in the general seating area, and spirits to those in private boxes or premium seats, B.C. stadiums and arenas can now serve spirits to all patrons, no matter where they are seated.
Today’s changes are the first of many to be implemented from the Liquor Policy Review - one of the B.C. government’s most successful public engagements. Government launched the review with the goals of increasing choice and convenience for consumers, cutting red tape, spurring the economy and supporting B.C. jobs, while protecting health and public safety.
Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice -
“Allowing family-friendly festivals to license the grounds instead of cordoning off beer gardens means families can stay together to enjoy the music, fun and festivities and, at the same time, will reduce set-up costs for the many non-profits that do such great work in our province. Our government promised to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws - increasing convenience, selection and choice for consumers, while keeping public safety top of mind - and we are delivering on that promise.”
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform -
“We heard from many British Columbians during the Liquor Policy Review that beer garden fencing is an unnecessary barrier that inconveniences families, and that they are looking for increased choice and selection. We listened, we are acting to address those calls and we are moving forward with our plan to update B.C.’s out-of-date liquor laws so they reflect modern-day society.”
Ann Phelps, general manager of the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival -
“Today’s changes will increase convenience and generate huge time and cost savings for our festival organizers, allowing more proceeds to flow directly to the programs we support. The thousands of visitors that the Dragon Boat Festival brings to Vancouver each year will also be happy to hear they can now enjoy a beverage while they watch live music, check out the local vendors or grab a bite to eat.”
- The recommendations from the Liquor Policy Review that came into effect today include:
- Except where it is not suitable from a public safety perspective, permit whole-site licensing for public events, eliminating “beer gardens” (recommendation 51).
- Allow the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events (recommendation 52).
- There should be more drink choices (e.g., mixed spirits) for consumers, as in all other types of licensed establishments (recommendation 56).
- Liquor sales in arenas and stadiums should be permitted in all public areas. As part of this, stadiums should have increased flexibility to provide hawking services to patrons in both the seated and concourse areas, and throughout the scheduled event (recommendation 57).
- Large-scale events of more than 500 people will be assessed for public safety risks based on factors such as the nature, demographic, size and duration of the event, crowd density, security presence, lighting and site visibility and licensee compliance history.
- Festivals or special events that wish to have beer garden fencing may still do so.
- All public events held under a SOL must be hosted by a non-profit organization, with the proceeds going to charitable purposes.
Information for festivals organizers and SOL applicants: http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/lclb/
Learn about the B.C. Liquor Policy Review: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/
Read the B.C. Liquor Policy Review final report: http://bit.ly/1beqi8i
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice