The B.C. government is permitting beer, spirits and wine to be sold in local grocery stores through separate cashiers by 2015.

B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton says expanded liquor sales will also be allowed in other places.

"These include things like liquor sales at farmers markets and that will be for local wines, happy hours and also the removal of beer garden fencing from summer festivals. In other words, consider larger site licences at the music festivals and street festivals we enjoy in British Columbia during the summer," she says.

Anton says government will continue to restrict the total number of retail outlets selling liquor and will require that grocery products and liquor be separated in order to prevent illegal sale to minors.

Under the new policy, liquor stores will be able to relocate their operations to grocery stores, or provide a connecting entrance from an adjacent location.

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The government says it is also developing policy to standardize the type of non-liquor products that can be sold in retail outlets selling liquor.

As part of this work, it will be developing a new wholesale pricing model to provide consistent pricing to all liquor retailers.

Anton says the entire Liquor Control and Licensing Act is being rewritten and the changes will be phased in.

Liquor timetable

Spring-summer 2014

  • Liquor manufacturers permitted to offer products for sample and sale at approved off-site locations like  farmers markets.
  • Patrons permitted to buy bottles of liquor to take home with them that are showcased at festivals for competitions.
  • Permit licensees to offer time-limited drink specials (happy hour) within a set minimum price.
  • Allow hosts to sell u-brew or homemade wine at weddings, family reunions.

Fall 2014

  • Streamlined application process for ski hills and golf courses to temporarily extend their licensed area.

Fall 2015

  • Permit hobby brewers and vintner to apply for a license to host competition events where the public can sample homemade beers and wines.

Winter 2015

  • Permit the sale of liquor in grocery stores.

The government says it intends to rewrite the entire Liquor Control and Licensing Act to adopt all 73 recommendations in its liquor policy review, but is immediately implementing the first 15.