Booze rules relaxed for farmers' markets, pubs, foodie fests
3 more changes to B.C. liquor laws went into effect Saturday, following Friday's happy hour debut
A new batch of B.C. Liquor Policy Review changes went into effect Saturday, allowing vendors at local seasonal markets to sell made-in-B.C. wines, spirits and beer and permitting liquor-primary establishments to admit minors.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton announced that beer, wine, cider and spirits can now be sampled and sold alongside fresh fruits and vegetables at B.C. farmers' markets.
"The liquor policy changes that take effect today reflect the lifestyles of contemporary British Columbians," she said in a written statement. "Being able to pick up a bottle of local wine at your local farmers' market is one of many balanced changes that support convenience and choice for consumers and economic growth for B.C."
Liquor manufacturers will be required to apply directly to the farmers' markets for approval, vendors will be required to have Serving it Right certification, and any ultimate decision will also have to comply with municipal bylaws.
John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, announced that the government is also allowing liquor-primary establishments, such as legion branches and pubs, to apply to accommodate minors.
"Our government has opened the door to family-friendly changes, with updated liquor policies that align with feedback I received from legions, the hospitality industry and British Columbians during the Liquor Policy Review," Yap said in a written statement. "We are leaving it up to the local associations and businesses to decide whether to pursue these changes."
Pubs and similar establishments that wish to permit family-friendly dining will only be able to allow minors until 10 pm at night. Business that don't wish to change their current operating models don't have to, Yap said.
The government also announced that beer and wines stores will be permitted to set up stands at food and drink festivals to sell products featured at the festival.
B.C.'s new happy hour
Saturday's announcements follow the start of happy hour in B.C. and new minimum-pricing rules, which went into effect Friday.
Until now, B.C. was the only province in Canada that did not allow licensed bars and restaurants to change their prices during the course of a day.
Under the new rules, the minimum drink price is $2 for a single-ounce shot of a spirit or $3 for a five-ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce sleeve of beer or cider.
Other changes to provincial liquor laws include dropping the requirement for customers to order food with drinks in a licensed restaurant and allowing hosts with a special occasion licence to serve homemade and U-brew beer, wine or cider.
In January, the provincial government endorsed 73 recommendations in a report on B.C. liquor laws.
Those changes include increasing the variety of alcohol available at sporting events and allowing mixed-spirit drinks at music festivals and in sports venues. The province will also allow liquor sales at grocery stores.
So far, 17 of the 73 recommendations have been implemented.
Government aims to have most in place by next spring.
With files from The Canadian Press