British Columbia

BC Ferries beer and wine sales delayed until late October

BC Ferries says its beer and wine sales pilot project which had previously been promised by June will launch by late October.

Corporation says provincial liquor permitting process takes time

The Queen of New Westminster ferry, left. BC Ferries said it decided to test alcohol sales following a 2018 customer engagement survey, where roughly 50 per cent of respondents expressed interest in drinking beer and wine inside onboard lounges. (BC Ferries)

BC Ferries says its beer and wine sales pilot project, which had previously been promised by June, will launch by late October.

The corporation has long promised it would add beer and wine to its Pacific Buffet menu on some of its southern route services.

In April, the corporation confirmed to CBC News it was targeting the month of June to launch a year-long trial period. In a statement emailed Monday, BC Ferries said the service, where it will offer up to one glass of wine or beer per customer when they buy a meal, will now be available in late October.

The corporation attributed the normal permitting process at B.C.'s Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, which a spokesperson says takes time, for the four month delay.

"We went through the process of applying for a liquor licence like anyone who would be looking to offer alcoholic beverages in their restaurants. There is a process to follow and it's important to go through that process fully. We're pleased with the outcome," said ferries spokesperson Astrid Braunschmidt.

Alcohol service on 3 southern route ferries

Starting in October, passengers 19 years old or older will be allowed to purchase either one five-ounce glass of wine, or one 12-ounce glass of beer but only with a meal on any of these three ferries on the Tsawwassen to Victoria routes:

  • The Spirit of Vancouver Island.
  • The Spirit of British Columbia.
  • The Coastal Celebration.

The alcohol service will start at 11 a.m.

BC Ferries already offers beer and wine on northern routes sailing to and from Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and Central Coast ports.

The ferry operator said it will review customer and employee feedback, as well as revenue numbers to evaluate the success of the pilot and said the trial does not change its zero tolerance policy for impaired driving.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch supervises over 10,000 licensed establishments and over 25,000 licensed events per year in the province of B.C.

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