Liquor Review Implementation Update

Today I was invited along with Powell River Branch President Paddy Treavor to a teleconference set up by John Yap MLA and Douglas Scott, Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manager of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch in BC.

This is the call we’ve been waiting for as new information was disseminated about the implentation of the Liquor review recommendations.

I did my best to make notes and if I get some details incorrect I apologise.

Hard deadlines for implementation were given and the first wave of those changes were introduced in the house earlier today by Suzanne Anton, the Justice Minister and Attorney General.

This first wave of amendments will pass around 70% of the recommendations Mr Yap made including Happy Hours, Farmers Markets, minimum drink prices. However these amendments will be phased in gradually over the next financial year (2014-2015) so we’re not quite there yet, but stay tuned.

The next changes will be around the liquor in Grocery stores model which is going to be in 2 parts:

Firstly the store-within-a-store model we were told about earlier this year where access is restricted so minors cannot enter without an adult. There will be a separate cashier but one basket shopping is expected so you won’t have to pay at 2 different tills. The LRS moratorium will continue to 2022 so  no new licences will be issued for the next 8 years. All forms liquor will be available. Store eligibility still being worked out however we know that convenience stores will not be permitted to sell alcohol. The “5km rule” will be abandoned so that the market can dictate the location of liquor stores however the “1km rule” will be continue to be enforced and Government liquor stores will included in this radius. We expect that a fee or levy will be put onto transfer of LRS licences.

The second Grocery model will be around the VQA wine model, a limited number of new licences will be made available for grocery stores to stock VQA wine on shelves not store-within-a-store. This initially seemed to be unfair to craft beer drinkers however Deputy Minister Scott  said that there is a possible VQA for craft beer which would allow it to be sold on these shelves. This is a very interesting development, especially as one of the key points for Liquor stores will now be the promotion of BC products – another of CAMRA BC’s recommendations!

Even more excitingly in spring 2015 the government will repeal the existing act and produce a 100% new liquor act with modern language to address the needs of British Columbians. This new act will be conducted in conversation with stakeholders (CAMRA BC will be there!) in what we hope will continue to be a transparent and open process. This is an incredible step and one that we pushed for, time to throw out these stupid patchwork laws and policies and start from scratch, I really could not be happier with this announcement.

The next announcement is that there will be a huge shake up in how liquor is priced in BC, don’t expect it to get cheaper necessarily as government revenue will not be cut (Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas!). At present there are 5 different discount rates, and the whole calculation process is needlessly complex, obtuse and difficult to follow. However the new system seems very very elegant in it’s simplicity, the BCLDB will set a wholesale price for all liquor products and this price is to be standardised across all Liquor stores in an attempt to improve fairness and transparency and administration. Deputy Minister Scott stated that flexibility is key and that mark-up structure will be based on price not volume – a huge change that means craft brewers may be able to compete with giant brewing corporations.

This is a great step forward among many other steps and I thank the Ministers for moving quickly, inviting CAMRA BC along to the discussion and for conducting the implementation in the same public spirit of inclusion and transparency.

I’m sure there will be lots of discussion about this in the next few days. If you would like to read the press release it is available here:

There is also more information here about the Serving it Right program: Liquor – Health Safety and SIR – FS – 6Mar14 – FINAL

And the Liquor Store model here:Liquor – Grocery Framework – NR – 6 Mar FINAL (1)

Of course we will keep you up to date on any more changes as the happen.

Adam Chatburn,

President, CAMRA BC – Vancouver Branch





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