British Columbia

Beer and a shave: More B.C. establishments now eligible for liquor licenses

As part of the provincial government's effort to modernize liquor sales in British Columbia, effective Jan. 23, 2017, businesses like barber shops, salons, spas, cooking schools, art galleries and book stores will be able to apply for a liquor license.

Businesses must still apply for a liquor licence to serve alcohol under updated rules

Barber Matthew Conrad shaves Matt Phillips's neck at Victory Barber & Brand in Victoria. (Government of B.C.)

Matthew Conrad spends his days at Victory Barber & Brand in Victoria "buzzing" people's hair.

Now that the province has changed the rules to allow barber shops to sell alcohol, his customers could soon be able to get a "buzz" themselves. 

As part of the provincial government's effort to modernize liquor sales in B.C., effective Jan. 23, 2017, businesses like barber shops, salons, spas, cooking schools, art galleries and book stores will be able to apply for a liquor license.

"So for us, this is certainly a great chance to modernize our own services that we are able to provide and just enhance the environment," said Conrad, who owns Victory Barber & Brand.

"What we are we doing now is really bringing in legislation to catch up with what is going on in the market place, to legitimize it and make it safer," he said.

Matthew Conrad, owner of Victory Barber & Brand in Victoria, says the provincial changes will help businesses like his. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

Safety measures in place

All types of businesses are now eligible to apply for a liquor license, unless they operate out of a vehicle or target minors. 

But barbers and other workers won't be able to start pouring immediately once the new rules are in place — all staff serving alcohol will need to complete the province's Serving-It-Right certificate. 

"Anyone serving liquor must have their certification to ensure they are trained in their legal responsibilities," said MLA John Yap, the parliamentary secretary for liquor policy.

"All businesses applying for a licence will have to follow the same process as other licensees. And will only be issued a license once the Liquor Control Board has determined they have met all the criteria to maintain health and safety." 

MLA John Yap, parliamentary secretary for liquor policy (left), introduces new rules that will allow businesses like barber shops to apply for a liquor licence on Nov. 16, 2016. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

Are liquor changes making a difference?

This change marks the 43rd recommendation enacted by the government since it launched a liquor modernization process in April 2014. 

Even with all the changes, some breweries say they're not sure what sort of difference the policies have made to their bottom line. Phillips Brewing founder, Matt Phillips, attended the announcement Wednesday at Victory Barber.

Phillips said his business has grown over the last year, but he can't distinguish whether that growth is because of government policy changes, the strength of his brand or a thirst for craft beer.

"It's a difficult question to tease apart. I would like to think all three of those things are happening," said Phillips. "Craft beer is still growing, our brand is still growing and I think these rules help."

now