British Columbia

Restaurants, bars now permanently allowed to buy alcohol at wholesale prices

In a written statement on Tuesday, B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the measure to buy liquor at wholesale prices would give businesses certainty.

Businesses with liquor licences previously had to pay full retail price for booze

The Colony Bar on Vancouver's Granville Street in May 2020. Restaurants, pubs and other businesses with liquor licences can now buy alcohol at wholesale prices. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

British Columbia will permanently allow restaurants, bars and tourism operators to buy liquor at wholesale prices, a move that industry hopes will help revive the struggling sector.

The provincial government made temporary changes in June to allow the hospitality industry to buy alcohol at the same price as liquor stores, and it has now made that decision permanent.

Previously, restaurants, pubs and tourism businesses with liquor licences paid full retail price — the wholesale price, plus a markup set by the government — on most alcohol purchases.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says in a news release that the government is making the change permanent to give businesses certainty and to help the estimated 190,000 residents who work in the sector.

Trevor Kallies, beverage director for the Donnelly Group, which owns several bars in Vancouver, says in the release that wholesale liquor pricing will help alleviate some financial pressures so businesses can focus on other areas, such as the health and safety of staff and customers.

Al Deacon, owner of Fox'n Hounds Pub and Fox'n Hounds Sahali Liquor Store in Kamloops, B.C., says the extra savings his business will earn from buying alcohol at lower prices can be used to keep his staff members employed. 

"In the pub last week, for instance, we were down 12 shifts out front on the floor compared to the previous week," he said Wednesday on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "[This] is huge for people who are there, students or single moms or someone who's got a parent or has a mortgage."

Restaurants Canada says in a statement that the move fulfils a long-standing recommendation from the industry group and it thanked the B.C. government for levelling the playing field between the province's retail and hospitality sectors.

"This move will go a long way to help British Columbia's hard-hit restaurant sector transition from survival to revival," said Mark von Schellwitz, the organization's vice-president for Western Canada.

Tap the link below to hear Al Deacon's interview on Daybreak Kamloops:

Al Deacon, owner of Fox'n Hounds Pub and Fox'n Hounds Sahali Liquor Store, speaks to Shelley Joyce about the latest provincial policy on alcohol sale. 4:15

With files from the Canadian Press and Daybreak Kamloops

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