Proposed B.C. Liquor Law Changes Lauded by Festival Organizer

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Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions didn’t have high hopes for B.C. government endorsement of the recent recommendations made in a report concerning the province’s outdated liquor laws. So he was pleasantly surprised to hear the government had held a press conference to announce its full support for all 73 recommendations in the report, and had even highlighted several that would benefit local festivals such as events he organizes with Atomique, such as Rifflandia and Rock the Shores.

“I think that the most significant changes will be the proposed changes to the beer garden regulations and the move towards open licensing,” he says. “This will lead to a better experience at events, especially ones like Rifflandia, which has a more of a family focus.”
The highlighted recommendations from the final report of the B.C. Liquor Policy Review support changes that will streamline the application process for special occasion licences (SOLs) and refresh outdated liquor policies around beer garden fencing. This means festival-goers will be able to roam the grounds with a pint, rather than being restricted to a cordoned-off beer garden. This will help decrease costs for festival organizers and allow parents with kids to enjoy a beer and remain with their family, as they might at a hockey game.
“It’s a welcome change for us and all of our customers,” Blasko says. “The good thing is that this has been happening elsewhere for many years, and there is a precedent we can rely on for how to do it properly. And we will start speaking to other people in the business that have tried this model to see how they approach things.”
Highlighted recommendations will also affect stadiums and arenas throughout the province. Currently, B.C.’s stadiums and arenas are permitted to serve beer and wine to those in the general seating area, and spirits to those in private boxes or premium seats. Once these changes are made in law, these facilities will be able to serve spirits, such as rum.
“We promised British Columbians we would overhaul B.C.’s outdated liquor laws — and we are keeping that promise,” says Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. “As we release the final report… you’ll see 73 wide-ranging reforms that will positively affect organizations – from local community festivals to music concerts, from hockey games to hotels – in communities all across B.C.”
A number of the recommendations, including those around SOLs, require significant policy work and implementation planning, which will be done over the coming months.
The full report is now available online and can be viewed at: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/