As we all know, BC Government took a long look at many of their liquor laws and spoke to the public to get some feedback and will soon be implementing a great deal of changes. Firstly, I’d like to applaud the government for taking the effort to modernize and bring their laws inline with the public interest and safety. Some of the changes are being lauded, while others are raising some eyebrows. I’ll review some of the most significant changes coming our way and offer my opinions which is entirely my own, so feel free to leave a comment and tell me that I’m wrong. Opinions and the internet seem to go hand in hand like Rob Ford and an excessive amount of lame jokes, but that’s just my opinion.
Minors in pubs – As the father of a toddler, I cautiously endorse this change. Similar laws are in place in other provinces, many states and has been the standard in Europe for centuries. I’ve witnessed these establishments first-hand and found that it worked very well having kids with their parents. The benefits go well beyond allowing Mom or Dad to have a pint of beer with dinner. It creates an environment where the children can be witness to responsible drinking, provided the parents are responsible. That comes down to good parenting. Sure the children may witness another patron who is perhaps enjoying themselves too much and acting inappropriately, but again this is where children learn the differences between responsibility and inappropriate behaviour with guidance from the parents. Venue choice is something the parents need to consider. Would I like to bring my daughter to wing night at Moon Under Water? Absolutely. Would I bring my daughter to happy hour at Big Bad John’s? Not on your life. Like any change, this may seem strange at first and there will be some struggles but with time I’m sure the establishments and patrons will find a balance.
Liquor sales in grocery stores – This one is touchy. Nobody including the Province really knows quite how this may look and it will be a difficult undertaking. I don’t believe the average grocery shopper is seeking out the newest, wildest, premium Beer, wine and spirits. I think those who do buy their drinks at Thrifty’s will be picking up a case of Lucky on their way to a BBQ, or a bottle of red anything to go with dinner at the inlaws. Will this hurt our cherished craft beer stores? Undoubtedly. Does this set-up work in other places? Go visit Whole Foods in Seattle and tell me. I don’t truly believe that most grocery stores will be willing to give up a large amount of real-estate for liquor. Will there be a store in a store? Will seventeen year-old clerks start asking people twice their age for ID? Will it make it easier for minors to gain access to alcohol? Nobody quite knows yet, but it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out.
Taking down the beer garden gates at festivals – I’m in huge favour of this one. I love the Rock the Shores festival and it’s getting better and better every year, but I HATE lineups and so does everyone else. I also don’t like having to separate from my family to enjoy a beer like a depraved alcoholic. If people are free to wander the grounds with a beverage in hand, they can enjoy slowly and at their leisure instead of slamming down a few in the confines of the beer gardens before heading back into general population. Do we need to have a beer in order to enjoy a festival, no but it’s nice to have a cold beer on a sunny day while listening to some great music and feel like you’re just one of the crowd. The need for less fencing, less lineups, less security could also ease the costs for organizers and hopefully festival-goers. An increase in security roaming the crowd to ensure minors aren’t drinking may be necessary, which should easily be offset from all of the aforementioned resources that won’t be required.
Let me know what you think, opinions are open-ended and subject to change with information. Today’s write up was on the dry side, so I’ll promise to spice things up for the next one.
For more info on all the changes and recommendations, see: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/local/haveyoursay/Docs/liquor_policy_review_report.pdf