April 27, 2014 - 4:56 AM
VANCOUVER - Free-range drinking at B.C. festivals will now be the norm after the provincial government announced it is tearing down beer garden fencing around the province.
People at special events can now roam festival grounds while enjoying a cold one as of today.
It's one of many recommended changes being implemented to update the province's old liquor laws.
"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," according to Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform John Yap.
The government will now also allow the sale of mixed spirits such as gin and tonic at special events.
Sports and entertainment venues are now being permitted to sell booze to all patrons, regardless of where they are seated.
"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," Attorney General Suzanne Anton said.
All festivals and public special events interested in selling alcohol still have to apply for a special occasion licence, subject to local government or police approval.
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."
- Allow the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events.
- There should be more drink choices (e.g., mixed spirits) for consumers, as in all other types of licensed establishments.
- 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.
- 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.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014