Changes to BC Liquor Laws: How They Will Help Small Business

Updates to BC liquor laws – which will take effect on March 1, 2013 – intend to support the growth of local craft breweries, distilleries and wineries, as well as other businesses including liquor stores, caterers, event planners and restaurants.

What the Changes Mean for Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries

Like wineries, breweries and distilleries will now be able to set up on-site tasting rooms or event areas. Additionally, all liquor manufacturers can now serve their own products, for a charge, in any off-site restaurants they own. The rules regarding how liquor manufacturers can promote their products in other restaurants and bars have also been simplified by removing the requirement for a buy-sell agreement.

And there are further incentives for 100% BC products. If your liquor is made entirely from BC agricultural raw material, you will be able to sell your products direct, without markup, as long as the liquor has been distilled in-province.

Highlights for Other Small Businesses

Liquor Retailers

The new legislation also impacts liquor retailers. Moving forward, all liquor retailer licensing will be consolidated under the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. Up until now, wine store licensing has been controlled by the Liquor Distribution Branch agency.

The criteria for private liquor store relocation have also changed. It is now clearly set out in government regulation, as opposed to policy. This new law outlines that private liquor stores cannot relocate with one kilometre of another private liquor store except under exceptional circumstances.

Caterers and Event Planners

Other recent changes, prior to this announcement, to BC liquor laws that have impacted the way small businesses obtain liquor licenses and serve liquor in the province.

As of February 6, 2013 caterers and event planners can directly apply for liquor licenses. Previously, their clients had to purchase the licenses and provide the means to serve their own liquor at events.

The introduction of corkage last summer also gives licensed establishments the option to allow customers to bring their own bottles of wine for a fee set by and paid to the restaurant.

For More Information

For more information on all of the coming changes to BC liquor laws, please visit the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch website.