Liquor laws will change for pubs and bars

New provincial regulations will allow happy hours and children in pubs

  • Dec. 24, 2013 2:00 p.m.

Premier Christy Clark announced the B.C. government’s support today for a second set of key liquor changes that will create opportunities for small businesses and legions and open up new dining options for B.C. families, while continuing to protect public safety.

To create more consumer convenience and give businesses more flexibility to grow, government will be introducing happy hour to B.C. To make sure liquor rules better reflect how British Columbians live, families soon will have the freedom to eat together in B.C.’s pubs, legions and restaurants. To enhance health and public safety, the Province also will improve and expand B.C.’s responsible beverage service program, Serving it Right (SIR).

“These changes are about updating antiquated licensing rules to reflect what British Columbians actually want, while continuing to protect public safety,” said Premier Clark. “Families should be able to dine together in their neighbourhood pub. Consumers should be free to order whatever they want in a restaurant. These are exactly the kind of common-sense changes to B.C.’s liquor laws we promised to make – and we’re keeping that promise.”

Specifically, with the Liquor Policy Review recommendations announced today, government is supporting:

• Small businesses and the hospitality industry, through changes like common- sense licensing and happy hours.

• Places like pubs, legions and membership clubs by making changes to create more  family-friendly environments.

• Health, safety and social responsibility by enhancing B.C.’s SIR program.

With minimum drink pricing consistent with the views that Parliamentary Secretary John Yap heard from health advocates during the B.C. Liquor Policy Review, the B.C. government will be opening the door to time-limited drink specials – such as happy hours.

Other changes that will benefit the hospitality industry include simplified, common-sense licensing rules. If patrons do not wish to eat, they will no longer be required to order food when they are in a food-primary establishment. Also, customers will be permitted to move freely with their beverage from one adjoining licensed area to another.

The B.C. government will further increase flexibility around licensing by giving liquor-primary establishments and clubs, such as legions, the option to accommodate minors up until a certain hour in the evening. This means, for example, that parents will be able to take their kids for a bite to eat at a pub or to enjoy some music at a legion that chooses to be family friendly.

“We’re thrilled to hear government is making positive changes in liquor regulations impacting The Royal Canadian Legion and other membership clubs, so we can hold gatherings that safely accommodate minors, like community events, anniversaries and birthday parties,” said Angus Stanfield, president of the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command. “These changes will help us strengthen our charitable giving for veterans, youth, seniors and the communities we serve.”

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