Baby steps needed to change ancient liquor laws - InfoNews

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Baby steps needed to change ancient liquor laws

The B.C. government wants to change its ancient liquor laws and will ask stakeholders and the public for what they think.
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August 08, 2013 - 8:30 AM

If the province wants to take inefficient liquor laws off the menu it needs to take baby steps, according to a restaurant advocate.

Change is great but it is going to take time, British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson said. The province wants to overhaul what it calls "outdated" liquor regulations by consulting with the public and businesses. Tostenson said the province will have to pick its way carefully.

"There is so much interest in this whole process," he said. "From restaurants, bars, private liquor stores, government liquor stores and all with different interests in the outcome."

Tostenson said he would like to see licensing stop being "a bogged-down process", restaurants being allowed to pay wholesale prices instead of retail prices and have more freedom to buy wine or beer from a local brewery down the street.

Other complaints of the rules are not allowing accompanied minors into pubs that serve food during daytime hours, not allowing wines and other local liquors to be sold at farmers' markets, refusing to give spas and other establishments liquor permits and new pubs and bars waiting a year to get a liquor license.

The association represents 3,000 members and Tostenson said it wants to be included in the discussions. The restaurant and hospitality industry generates $10 billion a year in sales, employs 170,000 workers and is the province's third largest employer. Liqour sales alone are worth more than $1 billion to the province through taxes.

Consultations start in September and a website will go up to collect citizens' suggestions. The review of the rules will cover everything liquor-related, including licensing, distribution, jobs, the hospitality sector and the connections between B.C. producers and sellers. The report will be handed to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton on Nov. 25.

To contact a reporter for this story, to send photos or videos, email Shannon Quesnel at, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1

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