New Liquor Control and Licensing Act & Regulations

Liquor Policy Review Process

A new Liquor Control and Licensing Act and Regulations came into effect in BC on January 23, 2017. These are substantially a follow through to the BC Liquor Policy Review Final Report prepared by the John Yap. There were 73 recommendations in the report and in excess of 50 have been implemented. According to government, as of January 23, 90% of the recommendations have been implemented.

The new Act and Regulations are intended to consolidate the many policy changes that have been made over the last two-and-a-half years and to modernize many aspects of the operation of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB).

Some of the more important changes were contained in Policy Directives 16-14 through 16-19, which were issued by the Branch on October 20, 2016. At the same time, the new regulations in whole were made available to the public and industry.

General Changes to Licensees (Policy Directive 16-14)

1. On a license transfer, the new owner of the license is responsible for any issues with respect to the license. Previously, it was the former owner’s responsibility, which caused issues during the transfer period at the Branch.
2. The requirement for a resident manager has been removed. There is a process of appointing a representative for specified duties and this should probably be filed by most licensees. There is no cost for filing an authorization.
3. Minor owners with less than 10% share transactions in a licensee do not need to be reported to the Branch.
4. Serving it Right is no longer required for licensing, but is required for all parties working in the establishment.
5. Local government can authorize staff to make recommendations rather than requiring a formal council resolution.
6. There will be a two-year time limit on dormancy, and any current dormant license must either leave dormancy or request an extension by January 2019.

Food Primary & Catering (Policy Directive 16-15)

1. Liquor service hours can be extended by the Branch without local government input, in certain circumstances.
2. License changes must now be reported within a specified time.
3. Hotel guests are permitted to take drinks from licensed areas to their rooms through unlicensed areas.
4. Dual licensing is now allowed again, so a licensee can have a Food Primary operation during the day and Liquor Primary operation at night.
5. Banquet rooms can now allow patrons to bring their own wine into licensed areas, which is great for weddings.
6. Establishments without a primary focus on food, such as spas, barbershops, or bookstores, may obtain a Liquor Primary license.
7. Caterers including Food Primary and Liquor Primary operators with a catering endorsement can store alcohol off site, but must file the LCLB form designating where it is stored.

Liquor Primary (Policy Directive 16-16)

1. Liquor Primary (LP) licenses can relocate anywhere in the province and not just in their local neighbourhood.
2. Hotels can serve guests a complimentary drink at check-in.
3. The Branch must be notified online of any “liquor-free event”, which ends after 8:00 pm, 14 days in advance of the event.
4. Normal non-LP facilities, such as cooking schools and art galleries, can apply for a LP license.
5. LPs that have off-sales endorsements can deliver liquor.
6. Concert halls and live entertainment facilities can now allow minors into events and serve alcohol.
7. Local government and the Branch can process LP applications at the same time, which will speed up the approval process.
8. There are provisions to allow minors in licensed recreational facilities after 10:00 pm, however, specific conditions apply.
9. Golf course patrons can take a drink from one service area to another. The issue will revolve around defining service areas i.e. practice areas for putting and driving ranges, which are part of the course.

Manufacturer and Agency Matters (Policy Directive 16-17)

1. Manufacturer agency licenses are no longer required unless selling outside BC.
2. Winery production must meet minimum 4500 litres produced on site.
3. Contract manufacturing is allowed.
4. Person capacities for Special Event Areas are required for new applications or when amending a current endorsement area.
5. Tasting event products either opened or unopened can be used for future tastings.
6. Liquor production at research or educational facilities does not require a license.
7. The privilege for manufacturer’s lounges to sell up to 20% of their volume with product that was not manufactured is confirmed.

Special Event Permit Replaces the Special Occasion License (Policy Directive 16-18)

1. Businesses can run separate events and simply identify the non-profit or charitable organization that will benefit.
2. Left over product does not need to be returned, but can be “given away” at the end of an event.

Compliance and Enforcement (Policy Directive 16-19)

1. A licensee can elect between a suspension and a monetary fine on a first offence.
2. The Branch can reconsider decisions on specified grounds rather than having to apply for a Judicial Review, which is very time consuming and expensive.
3. If an appeal of an enforcement matter does require a Judicial Review, it must be commenced within 30 days.
4. The prescribed penalty schedule will continue and the Adjudicator will be unable to differentiate between good operators and bad operators. It is also worth noting that a licensee’s compliance history must now always be taken into effect.

Lastly, licensees are reminded of the requirement to retain all records for six years. This was the rule under current regulation 34 and continues under new regulation 80. It includes all liquor and sales records, plus employee and incident reports.

Dennis P. Coates, Q.C. is with MJB Lawyers and can be reached at 250-319-4808 or