Liquor changes to benefit festival

Lody Kieken, Folk Music Society Chair - Observer file photo
Lody Kieken, Folk Music Society Chair
— image credit: Observer file photo

Festivalgoers and sports enthusiasts, as well as the hotel industry and its patrons, will benefit from recommendations highlighted Friday in the final report on the B.C. Liquor Policy Review.

The province says recommendations highlighted Friday will streamline the application process for special occasion licences and refresh outdated liquor policies around beer garden fencing, opening up new opportunities for B.C.’s many festivals, special events and non-profit organizations.

Applications will be moved online, and the requirement for fencing around beer gardens will be eliminated. Once legislative changes are made, festivalgoers will be able to roam the grounds with a pint, rather than being restricted to a cordoned-off area.

The province says  the changes will help decrease costs for festival organizers and allow parents with kids to enjoy a beer and remain with their family, as they might at a hockey game. In addition, mixed-spirit drinks – rather than only beer, wine, cider and cooler products –will also be permitted at events like music festivals and regattas, with continued restriction of sales to minors.

Salmon Arm Folk Music Society chair Lody Kieken agrees. He believes the move will have a positive effect on Roots and Blues and other festivals.

“I see this as a positive move and have myself experienced out-of-province festivals where this sort of thing is already allowed,” he said, describing it as a sane alternative to putting up barriers. “I like the European model of alcohol control where families are often seen in restaurants and public places with alcohol being present without any issues. In fact, there is generally a much healthier attitude towards and respect for the consumption of alcohol.”

The province has announced its full support for 73 recommendations in the report. A number of these recommendations require significant policy work  and implementation planning, which will be done over the coming months.

Other changes include:

• Allowing the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events and enabling hosts to serve UBrew/UVin at events, such as weddings.

• Increasing flexibility around licensing and permitting spirit-based liquor sales in the stands of stadiums and arenas throughout the province.

• Making licensing changes that will extend room service hours in hotels and allow guests to move more freely with alcoholic beverages.

In addition to the recommendations announced Friday, the full report is available at



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