On January 23, 2017, changes to liquor laws and BC liquor permits came into effect – the result of the BC government’s sweeping Liquor Policy Review which began in 2013. The review resulted in 73 recommendations for changes. To date, 63 of those recommendations have been implemented. Some of the changes have been controversial, such as BC-only-wine on BC grocery store shelves, which resulted in a trade challenge by the U.S. government. Others changes to BC liquor laws changes may bring opportunities to BC businesses.
Summary of BC liquor law changes affecting BC liquor permit applicants:
- All types of businesses, such as barbershops, salons, book stores and galleries may apply for a BC liquor license.
- Businesses now may apply for Special Event Permits (formerly “Special Occasion License”) to raise funds for charity. Under the old law, only registered non-profits were eligible to apply for a special occasion license to raise money for charity.
- Special Event Permittees can now keep alcohol left over at the end of the event (to take home, or give away for example). Leftover alcohol cannot be resold, used at another event or under another license. The old law required that all leftover unopen alcohol be returned to the store.
- Hotels and resorts that own a bar may offer a complimentary alcoholic beverage upon check-in and permit guests to take the drink to their room.
- Restaurants and bars may make unique cocktails called “infusions” and may barrel-age infusions (create a batch of the unique cocktail). An infusion is alcohol infused with an ingredient that adds flavour (e.g. strawberries, vanilla) to make a unique blend.
- BC liquor permit applicants will receive more timely decisions on their liquor license applications because provincial and local governments can now can now access the application simultaneously.
- Theatres may now permit patrons to consume alcohol purchased on-site, both in a lobby or in a licensed seating area when minors are present.
- Restaurants may apply for a liquor permit that allows them to operate as a nightclub or bar after certain hours.
- Bars may apply for a liquor permit that allows them to operate as a restaurant during certain hours.
- Golf course patrons may take drinks from one service area to another.
- Caterers may store liquor off-site and may advertise liquor.
- Non-licensees may mention liquor in advertising (as long as they aren’t promoting it). This change enhances the development of promotional materials such as brochures, apps, and maps to promote BC wineries, distilleries and breweries.
- Manufactures may offer patrons liquor that was not produced on-site and may provide guided tours of their premises without having to apply for permission.
For complete information about the changes to BC liquor laws and BC liquor permits, see the following:
- “New modern liquor laws come into effect” (BC Gov News)
- Policy Directives (BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch).
- Liquor Policy Review (BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch)
- Rising Tide Consulting’s Guide to Obtaining a Liquor License (PDF)
Confused About the Changes to BC Liquor Permit Policies?
BC liquor laws have changed dramatically in 2017. With so many changes to BC liquor permit eligibility and policies, current licensees and would-be applicants may be overwhelmed by information. Rising Tide Consultants – a premier BC liquor licensing expert – is here to guide you. If you are considering applying for a liquor permit, or have a BC liquor license and would like to arrange a professional consultation, please contact us. Our liquor consultants can provide guidance, ensure you or your business meet eligibility requirements, and act as a liaison between your business and the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.