BC Liquor Policy ChangesHow they Impact Your Business
It’s been full steam ahead at LCLB in the months following the many liquor policy changes that took effect January 23, 2017. The work initiated by my predecessor, Doug Scott, has continued and I am proud of the accomplishments we’ve achieved so far in working toward implementing the 73 recommendations of the Liquor Policy Review Final Report.
Our work is ongoing at the Branch, and finding a balance between industry’s needs, public interest, and public safety has been, and continues to be, top of mind. I know that many of the new policies have had a direct impact on you and your business. In order to answer common questions ABLE BC members have raised, I will attempt to clarify some of our new policies here.
Non-Traditional Businesses Applying for a Liquor Primary Licence
Any business, except one that operates in a motor vehicle or is primarily directed at minors, can now apply for a liquor primary licence. This new policy allows businesses, such as spas and art galleries, to offer liquor as an additional service to their patrons. The application process, including fees, gathering the views of local residents, and the terms and conditions of the licence are the same for all businesses applying for a liquor primary.
So far, we have seen a very small intake of non-traditional businesses applying for a liquor primary. The vast majority of liquor primary applications are still from bars, pubs, and night clubs.
There have been some questions about how this new policy affects licensing in movie theaters. In fact, movie theaters have been able to hold a liquor licence since 2012. This has not changed. Today, there are five licensed cinemas in the province.
Food primary and liquor primary establishments may enter into a joint promotion with a liquor manufacturer or agent.
Promotions with Agents and Manufacturers
Food primary and liquor primary establishments may enter into a joint promotion with a liquor manufacturer or agent to feature a manufacturer’s products during an event, such as a brewmaster’s or winemaker’s dinner. This joint promotion is allowed as long as the event includes a full meal and the liquor served at the event is purchased through the Liquor Distribution Branch. The full rules around these joint promotions have not changed and continue to be outlined in the new Terms and Conditions handbooks, available on the LCLB website.
What has changed is that manufacturers and agents are no longer required to have a theme night or an educational component to promote their products at establishments. There are still strict requirements concerning what both the manufacturer/agent and the licensee must do during such promotions, which are outlined in the new Terms and Conditions handbooks.
Licensee retail stores and wine stores are now permitted to sell samples (or give free samples) when conducting their own consumer tastings. They may also host a maximum of two manufacturers or agents providing free samples in their store at one time. Manufacturers/agents are still not allowed to sell samples; they can only provide samples free of charge.
When sampling within a food primary or liquor primary establishment, the licensee may sell samples (they cannot give them away) and a manufacturer/agent can only give samples for free (they cannot sell them).
Sampling sizes for manufacturers on their manufacturing sites and at markets remain unchanged. However, sample sizes for retail stores, food primaries and liquor primaries have been increased to half a standard drink–whether there is a charge or they are provided for free. Half a standard drink is 75ml wine, 175ml beer, or 20ml spirits in total per person, per day, divided as the licensee chooses.
Licensee retail stores and wine stores are now permitted to sell samples (or give free samples) when conducting their own consumer tastings.
In addition to the maximum sample size allowed, there are other rules both the licensee and the manufacturer/agent must follow when samples are being provided, such as who must serve the samples. Full details on sampling rules and consumer tastings can be found in the new Terms and Conditions handbooks on the LCLB website.
Product Vouchers for Retail Stores
BC has rules around how liquor products can be advertised, sold or promoted, which complement the federal government’s rules surrounding advertising of alcoholic beverages. For example, no advertisements or promotions may exist that encourage overconsumption. For this reason, ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ promotions on liquor products are strictly prohibited. This has not changed.
Manufacturers and agents may provide vouchers for liquor products directly to members of the general public. The rules around these vouchers have not changed and are outlined in full in the new Terms and Conditions handbooks, available on the LCLB website. Vouchers must be redeemed at participating retail stores only (not at bars, pubs, or restaurants), must specify how much liquor is redeemable, and are subject to the following size restrictions:
· Wine: The smallest available size per product per vintage (not exceeding two litres)
· Spirits: One bottle of the smallest available size per product (not exceeding 750ml)
· Beer/cider/coolers: 12 of the smallest available bottles or cans (total not exceeding four litres)
Michelle Carr is Assistant Deputy Minister of Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.