British Columbia

Free-range beer gardens now allowed at some B.C. festivals

Parents will no longer have to leave their children outside cordoned-off beer gardens in order to enjoy a drink at some festivals and events in B.C.

Fence requirement eliminated and spirits will be allowed to be served at events and sports arenas

Free-range beer gardens

8 years ago
Duration 2:09
Changes to B.C.'s liquor laws mean the fences can come down at some festivals

Parents will no longer have to leave their children outside cordoned-off beer gardens in order to enjoy a drink at some festivals and events in B.C.

Changes to B.C.'s liquor laws, announced by Attorney General Suzanne Anton on Saturday, mean that at some events, adults who buy an alcoholic beverage at a festival booth don't have to stay in a fenced-off zone. The buyers can instead take the drink with them as they wander the festival grounds.

"Allowing family-friendly festivals to license the grounds instead of cordoning off beer gardens means families can stay together to enjoy the music, fun and festivities," Anton said. "At the same time, [it] will reduce set-up costs for the many non-profits that do such great work in our province."

Ending the requirement for cordoned-off beer gardens at some events means that families can stay together if one of the parents wants to enjoy a drink. (CBC)

The changes also apply to the sale of spirits at public events and sports arenas.

Properly licensed events, including music festivals and regattas, will now be permitted to sell highballs or mixed drinks. Sports venues, which had been restricted to serving spirits within private boxes and premium seats, will also now be allowed to serve spirits to all patrons, no matter where they are seated.

John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, said the changes come from requests made by British Columbians during the liquor policy review conducted last year.

The government notes that festivals and public events still need to apply for a special occasion licence (SOL) and their activities may also be subject to local government or police approval. 

The government also says "festivals or special events that wish to have beer garden fencing may still do so."


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