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6 More Vancouver Sun Articles Of Opinions For Updating B.C. Liquor Laws.

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November 03, 2013 – Comments (0) | RELATED TICKERS: DEO , STZ , TAP

Safety vs. access: Is it time to loosen our liquor laws?

B.C. must weigh demands for a more laid-back European-style drinking scene against the fact that increased access to alcohol usually leads to more problem drinking 

By Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun November 2, 2013

 

John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform appears at a press conference to announce that the B.C. government will look at selling beer and wine at some retail stores, after a majority of residents said they were in favour of the idea, in Vancouver, BC., October 29, 2013.Photograph by: NICK PROCAYLO, PNG

So, what’s in your glass? A nice B.C. craft beer you bought at the local liquor store and are sipping in your own home? Excellent. Enjoy. But what if you wanted to buy that same pint at a discounted price after work during so-called happy hour? Or while grocery shopping or filling your car with gas? Or while having dinner with your children at the neighbourhood pub?

Or at the hair salon or a farmer’s market?

That same pint suddenly becomes more political and complicated.

B.C. is in the midst of a high-stakes review of liquor laws.

And Thursday marked the final day businesses and citizens could make recommendations to the provincial government about how and why B.C. should change its liquor laws, described by many as draconian compared to other provinces and states. You can buy liquor from depanneurs (corner stores) in Quebec and some grocery stores in Ontario. You can be served a drink at hair salons and spas in Sask­atchewan and Manitoba, and during happy hours in every province except B.C.

Many similar businesses in this province are eager to offer the same options to their customers.

Health and public safety advocates, however, argue we should think first about potential harms before supporting any loosening of liquor laws.

Tim Stockwell, of the Victoria-based Centre for Addictions Research, said scads of academic research reached the same basic conclusion: If alcohol is sold in more places, then we will buy it more often, and that leads to heavier drinking and a less-healthy society.

“Putting alcohol in corner stores and supermarkets leads to an increase in consumption, and that is shown in studies all around the world,” Stockwell, a psychology professor at the University of Victoria, said in an interview.

The government announced this week that it may allow liquor sales in grocery stores, but a spokeswoman said no decision has been made yet on whether that would mean an increase in the number of liquor outlets in B.C.

From 2002 to 2008, the number of government, rural agency and private liquor stores in B.C. rose from 786 to 1,294 — a 64-per-cent increase.

Stockwell said a recent B.C. study published in an international health journal showed a 10-per-cent rise in liquor stores led to a 2.5-per-cent jump in alcohol-related deaths and 3.5 per cent more hospital admissions for drinkers.

After Washington state recently allowed corner stores to sell alcohol, he added, there was an increase in thefts of booze by underage drinkers.

Stockwell’s research also shows that if alcohol costs more, people will drink less. A recent study using B.C. statistics suggested if prices are increased by 10 per cent there would be an immediate nine-per-cent reduction in serious cases admitted to hospital and several years later a nine-per-cent drop in chronic alcohol-related diseases.

The minimum price liquor stores can charge for booze in B.C. has not kept up with inflation, Stockwell said. Therefore, he argued, B.C. prices are too low compared to provinces like Ontario and Saskatchewan.

“The lower the price, the more people will buy alcohol. And you are more likely to drink it if it is in the fridge,” he said.

There are, it seems, as many academic papers analyzing the pros and cons of liquor laws as there are varietals of grapes.

A group of hip, young people advocating for happy hours in B.C. gave John Yap, parliamentary secretary to the B.C. justice minister, a research paper that concludes after-work discounted drinks did not lead to an increase in drinking or alcohol-related injuries.

Yap is overseeing the review for the provincial government.

“Look at other jurisdictions with happy hours, and there aren’t significant increases of incidences of drinking and driving,” said Jeremy McElroy, of the Campaign for Culture.

“The rules in place here might have been intended to curb a little of that, but rates (of alcohol-related harms) are similar across the board.”

Researchers with Toronto’s Addiction Research Foundation studied what happened after Ontario allowed happy hours in 1982 and after they were banned again in 1984.

“The results indicated no significant pre-ban/post-ban differences in alcohol consumption among all individuals nor within taverns,” the study’s authors concluded.

Ontario brought back happy hours in 2007, and since then studies indicate there has been no increase in impaired driving in that province.

McElroy, the general manager of a student union, believes there is a more vibrant after-work scene in other Canadian cities.

His group does not support some happy hour practices common in the U.S., such as two-for-one drinks or free drinks for women. Instead, it promotes responsible drinking and supports tough drunk-driving laws.

Yap addressed happy hours in a recent blog post.

“Concerns are cited around chronic overdrinking, and B.C.’s alcohol consumption has been on the rise over the past decade or so. Would you have concerns about allowing happy hours in B.C., or is this something you’d like to see?” he asked B.C. residents.

McElroy’s group is also asking Yap to support local craft beer by allowing vendors to sell it alongside other B.C.-produced products at farmer’s markets.

“Seattle, Portland, New York all have the ability for craft distillers to sell their products at farmers markets. You can go down, grab some sausage, some jam and get a bottle of wine,” McElroy said.

While farmers markets may be among the changes the government will consider, lowering the minimum drinking age of 19 does not appear to be up for discussion — despite the fact B.C.’s neighbour, Alberta, allows 18-year-olds into bars.

“While I’ve certainly discussed this in my meetings with health authorities, this isn’t something that I expect to see changed as part of this review,” Yap said.

The World Health Organization has indicated in recent studies that most countries have drinking ages that range between 18 and 21, and warns that the earlier a person starts drinking, the more apt they are to have problems from heavy drinking later in life.

“When New Zealand reduced the minimum age from 20 years to 18 years in 1999 there was a marked increase in the proportion of 18- to 19-year-olds involved in traffic crashes and requiring emergency room treatment,” said a 2011 WHO report, Addressing the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

“When American states put their minimum age back up to 21 in the early 1980s, similar harm statistics improved.”

Supporters of changing B.C.’s liquor laws often envision a more European drinking scene, one where laid-back access to alcohol leads to responsible, social drinking.

“One might encapsulate this idea as: More wine with dinner, less drunken brawling,” says the Health Officers Council of B.C., which includes medical health officers and the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“The challenge arises when we look at the evidence and trends of alcohol use and health effects in North America. Unsafe binge drinking is on the rise, as well as per capita alcohol consumption over the last decade.”

In its submission to Yap, the council says the government spends more money on addressing alcohol-related harms than the revenue it receives from sales.

The doctors advocate charging higher prices for drinks with a larger percentage of alcohol. They noted between 1992 and 1997, a territory in Australia placed a small levy on strong drinks to fund treatment programs.

That “reduced acute alcohol-related mortality in the territory, an effect which did not continue after the levy was removed,” the Health Officers Council submission says.

The group urged Yap to balance the elimination of “archaic and overly bureaucratic” liquor laws with addressing the societal harms of alcohol.

Among those archaic laws is one prohibiting children from eating dinner with their parents in pubs, argues the consumer organization Campaign for Real Ale Society.

Children are allowed in other venues that serve alcohol, such as restaurants, wedding halls and bowling alleys. The group believes the law should be amended so kids can go into pubs with a non-intoxicated adult until 7 p.m.

“In Europe and many other parts of the world, minors are allowed in bars when accompanied by adults with no apparent or obvious impact on public safety or increase in underage drinking,” says a submission to Yap submitted by Rick Green, president of the 28-year-old society which has 1,500 members and five branches in B.C.

Yap has received dozens and dozens of opinions about liquor laws from organizations and people like Green, and his final report summarizing those diverse points of view will be delivered to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton by Nov. 25.

His task will not be simple.

As B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, told Yap: the review’s aim to balance increasing revenues while minimizing health and social harms, “may be challenging.”

lculbert@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

 

Don’t make liquor laws too lax: Vancouver police

Police concerned easier access to booze, later bar closures could stretch resources 

By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun October 22, 2013

Police are asking the B.C. government not to bring in changes such as “happy hours” and “open bottle” service that they believe could lead to binge drinking, greater social problems and more trouble for law enforcement officers. They are especially concerned with the Granville zone, where there are more than 11,000 liquor-licensed seats in bars, pubs and restaurants.Photograph by: Jason Payne , PNG

As B.C. readies to reform its liquor laws, police are asking the government not to bring in changes such as “happy hours” and “open bottle” service that they believe could lead to binge drinking, greater social problems and more trouble for law enforcement officers.

If the government does relax the laws it needs to put more money into education and alcohol abuse prevention programs, as well as funding for law enforcement to account for the inevitable results, according to a new report by the Vancouver Police Department.

The report was prepared for Minister John Yap, the parliamentary secretary undertaking a broad reform of provincial liquor policies.

It gives a law-enforcement view of a much larger issue facing Premier Christy Clark’s governing Liberals, who have promised to reform liquor laws to bring them into line with other provinces, including untangling complex, contradictory and outdated legislation.

The last major review by the government was in 1990.

The province is under considerable pressure from the public, producers and distributors to loosen the reins around its archaic laws. At the same time, health professionals and police are worried that too many changes will result in more alcohol abuse and related social problems.

On Saturday, Vancouver police officers gave Yap a first-hand tour of the problems they have to deal with every weekend in the Granville zone, where there are more than 11,000 liquor-licensed seats in bars, pubs and restaurants.

Yap, whose office gave a copy of the report to The Vancouver Sun, said his late-night tour was eye-opening. The police department said it would not comment on the report before the minister publishes it on the B.C. government website.

In an interview Monday, Yap said he appreciated the police point of view and had seen the difficulties officers face dealing with alcohol-related incidents downtown. He also saw examples of young people being over-served.

But he said he has a mandate to reform the liquor distribution system, to protect jobs, and to create investment in B.C.’s important and expanding winemaking and craft beer brewing industries.

“Part of this review is to have a read of the public’s attitudes on some of the changes that, if we were to consider them, would update the regulations to reflect todays’ times,” he said. “The whole focus here is we want to update the laws and regulations, but we also need to take a balanced approach.”

Yap said he has heard repeated concerns that too many changes will result in more social problems. Since August, his office has received more than 400 written submissions from a broad range of society, including private companies, non-profit groups, government agencies and individuals. Some want the government to keep restrictions on access to alcohol, including minimum pricing and government distribution. Others say B.C.’s laws are unnecessarily bureaucratic and rooted in Prohibition-era Big Brother policies that stifle business and mollycoddle people.

The No. 1 public request Yap said he gets is to open the door to grocery stores carrying liquor, as is the case in Quebec and Ontario. Also high on the list is resolving the contradiction that children can be exposed to alcohol in some public places, such as at hockey games, but aren’t allowed to have a meal with their parents in a pub.

Yap said he is keeping an open mind, but would not say whether he will be recommending any specific changes. His final report to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton is due Nov. 25.

Some changes will require legislative approval, but others could be done through regulation, the minister said.

In its report to Yap, the VPD said police officers have seen problems escalate in the Granville and Gastown entertainment districts since city council extended bar closing hours to 3 a.m. At the same time, the city has granted more business licenses for bars, pubs and restaurants, creating areas of critical mass that both create ambience but also the potential for problems. In 2008, there were 7,800 licensed alcohol seats in the Granville district, and 4,099 in Gastown. There are now 11,200 in Granville and 5,094 in Gastown, according to the police report. The VPD has a special six-person team in the Granville entertainment district on weekends, but only two officers in a similar position in Gastown. It can’t afford more officers there without an increase in its budget, it said.

The VPD report pointed out that since the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot, the department has stepped up methods for diffusing alcohol-related problems in crowds without having to resort to Criminal Code sanctions. For example, during the Celebration of Light fireworks festival, officers interdict booze-carrying spectators, bagging and tagging the alcohol for later return to owners.

“The primary focus of the VPD is on the potential impact changes to the Liquor Act may have on public safety ... the current provincial liquor laws provide the legal authorities or tools the police need to address public disorder and violent behaviour. If the present legal tools are removed or diminished, police officers will have to resort to other legal authorities such as the Criminal Code of Canada to address disorderly and/or violent behaviour associated to the abuse and problematic use of liquor,” the report said.

“Any changes to the BC Liquor Act also need to consider the impact on public health as well as the problems and public safety concerns associated to the lack of public transportation once licensed premises are closed. Finally, any changes in the BC Liquor Act that increase the accessibility of liquor in any given location or area should take into account the impact on public safety and the cost of additional policing made necessary by these changes.”

jefflee@vancouversun.com

Twitter . com/sunciviclee

Blog: www . vancouversun . com/jefflee

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

 

Opinion: Five ways to reform B.C.’s antiquated liquor laws

By Mark Hickenand John Skinner, special to the sun October 8, 2013 

The province needs to take bold steps to bring wine rules into the 21st century, say Mark Hiken and John Skinner.Photograph by: ED JONES , AFP/Getty Images

The B.C. government is conducting a liquor policy review that extends to all parts of the regulatory and distribution systems for alcohol within the province. A new website is live for public input, and the government is actively seeking feedback through social media. As well, MLA John Yap, the parliamentary secretary responsible for the review, is meeting with numerous stakeholder groups in an attempt to solicit further input and ideas.

Our group, the Modernize Wine Association of B.C. (MWA), is also meeting with Mr. Yap. MWA is a registered non-profit society that includes members who represent the food and wine industries, the hospitality industry and wine consumers. We are advocating for positive reforms that will benefit both the food and wine industries, as well as consumers, while taking care not to risk the revenue government earns from liquor sales. Our ultimate objective is to promote change that will result in an enhanced food-and-wine culture throughout the province.

To bring B.C.’s liquor regulatory system into the 21st century, we propose reforms in five areas:

1. B.C. must modernize the wholesale pricing system for liquor. The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) uses an exceptionally complex formula to mark up products by unusually high margins (e.g., 117 per cent for wine, 163 per cent for spirits) and then sets artificial wholesale prices for all private licensees (in other words, all of its competitors) by allowing for small “discounts” off its own retail prices. No other jurisdiction in the world uses a system as complicated as this.

Moreover, the system does not treat private retail level licensees equally. Differing classes of private retail stores get “discounts” that range from 12 to 30 per cent off the government retail price. Restaurants/hotels/bars get nothing. They have to pay full retail price for all products despite being some of the LDB’s best customers. If you’ve ever had sticker shock after seeing the price of wine in a typical B.C. restaurant, hotel lounge or bar, you can blame the province’s bizarre liquor mark-up system.

B.C. must adopt a system that is closer to global standards, and which uses normal wholesale pricing in conjunction with simpler taxes applied at the wholesale and retail levels. In this way, all retail businesses could purchase at the same normal wholesale price (tax included), and government would be guaranteed the revenue that it collects annually from liquor sales.

2. We recommend that B.C. streamlines the BCLDB’s liquor delivery and distribution system for private licensees. Already, 56 per cent of the product sold to private licensees is distributed by methods other than the BCLDB. Unfortunately, the remaining 44 per cent is subject to an inefficient system under which product is subject to numerous bureaucratic rules, and is “touched” so many times in the distribution chain that delivery times for distances as short as Richmond to Vancouver can often exceed 2 weeks.

MWA recommends that products delivered to private licensees should be freed from the BCLDB distribution system altogether. Authorized import agents can do this work more efficiently, and at a lower cost to consumers and to taxpayers.

3. We recommend that B.C. expands upon its successful farm gate sales programs, which have resulted in a thriving local wine industry and agri-tourism sector. To achieve this we propose two approaches: that wineries are permitted to sell and offer tastings of wine at farmers’ markets; and that wineries are given permission to operate satellite tasting rooms away from their wineries. The latter has been proven to be successful in Washington state towns such as Walla Walla and Woodinville.

4. We recommend that the provincial government improves the framework for the issuance of liquor licences. These suggestions include such common-sense items as: making the rules and regulations surrounding liquor clearer and more easily accessible; reducing the amount of time it takes to obtain a liquor license; reforming our complicated and bureaucratic special-occasion license system; allowing educational wine tasting events; and permitting commercial wine auctions to occur in B.C.

5. We propose that several licensing rules and policies be updated to reflect contemporary attitudes and standards. For example, B.C. should permit licensees to store liquor at secure off-site storage facilities. The current system limits choice and increases costs for private operators, which are handed down to consumers.

B.C. should also permit restaurant or retail chains to transfer liquor between locations, and allow flexible pricing on liquor products during the day. It should be permissible to pour reasonable quantities of alcohol at tasting events, and it should also be OK for private retailers and wineries to do business at wine festivals. With today’s secure technology, wineries should be able to use ecommerce tools for sales away from their licensed facilities.

We salute the government’s liquor law reform efforts to date — such as advocating for more open shipping over provincial boundaries, or allowing consumers to bring their own wine in exchange for a corkage fee. Now is the time for the next bold step. With our association’s constructive recommendations, we believe the B.C. government can adopt a 21st-century approach to regulating liquor, and leave behind the antiquated rules that hold us back.

Mark Hicken and John Skinner are directors of the Modernize Wine Association of B.C. (modernizewine . ca). Hicken is a wine industry lawyer. Skinner is the owner of Painted Rock Winery.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

 

Editorial: Sale of beer, wine in grocery stores not a radical idea

By Vancouver Sun editorial September 25, 2013 

Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform John Yap launched the new Liquor Policy Review website — www.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview — while touring Steamworks Brewing Co.'s new facility in Burnaby. Yap is inviting British Columbians to get involved with the site through blog discussions, Twitter chats and feedback forms to better understand B.C.'s liquor system and to offer vital input on ways to improve it.Photograph by: Submitted

A newly announced plan aimed at overhauling B.C.’s liquor laws has ignited a debate on the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets and convenience stores.

Such a change would mirror current practice in Montreal and long-standing custom in Europe as well as across the U.S.

People in those locations think nothing of grabbing a bottle of Chardonnay as they pick up the ingredients for their dinner. And the world does not come to an end.

For busy British Columbians, the change would add a helping of convenience, and mark only a subtle adjustment from current circumstance whereby private beer and wine outlets often are located alongside stores where grocery items are sold.

Private liquor stores number 670 in B.C., and are far more plentiful than provincial liquor stores, numbering 195. In total, liquor can be purchased at 1,439 outlets in the province. Selling spirits more broadly would not bring about all that much change.

The B.C. government launched its liquor policy review last August, and set up a website for public feedback earlier this month.

Posted responses so far suggest overwhelming support for the idea of allowing beer and wine on to grocery shelves.

Parliamentary Secretary for liquor policy reform John Yap says he’s looking for “balanced, common sense” ideas that would further three provincial goals: improving customer service, growing the economy and ensuring public health and safety.

But reform is “not as straightforward as what it may seem,” cautions Yap. For example, which category of spirits should be marketed more broadly, and exactly where? Should hard liquor be sold at grocery stores? Should wine and beer also be carried at gas station convenience stores?

Yap notes liquor is responsible for 10 per cent of the “total burden of illness in Canada.”

He also points out that about 30 per cent of late-night attendees at B.C. hospital emergency departments are there directly or indirectly because of drink.

Access and availability certainly are connected to consumption. But that should not mean the responsible consumers of alcoholic beverages are inconvenienced as a result of irresponsible liquor use by the few.

And it is worth remembering, the province has several levers at its disposal that it can use to regulate consumption.

First, the legal drinking age in this province is 19 and shopkeepers presumably would continue to be obligated to check identity cards in order to prevent sales to minors.

Second, B.C. has stiff penalties for drunk driving and most surely would agree, they should be kept in place.

Third, this province has some of the highest liquor prices in the country.

Society has come a long way from the Prohibition era of almost a century ago. The public these days increasingly prefers to be free of strictures imposed by Big Brother governments.

No one is suggesting the sale of liquor become a free for all. But simply allowing B.C. residents to buy their booze along with their ground beef and potatoes is hardly a radical notion.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

 

B.C. liquor laws can do more to minimize harm

Opinion: How can a balance be struck between convenient access and preventing alcohol-related harms? By Tim Stockwell, Special to The Vancouver Sun September 17, 2013 

Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria.

Almost 100 years ago, all of the Canadian provinces other than Quebec voted for the total prohibition of alcohol. In B.C. this occurred in 1917 following a referendum, but was soon repealed in 1921, overwhelmed by a tide of organized crime, official corruption and political scandal. Prohibition was imposed on the aboriginal people of Canada for over a century, ending only in 1962.

Key elements of our present system of liquor control in B.C. emerged out of those prohibition years.

In 1921, social concerns were addressed through a government-owned sales and distribution system. There were few liquor outlets, operating for limited hours, and drinkers had to purchase a licence.

The B.C. government has announced a review and “modernizing” of liquor laws, the first comprehensive review since 1999. The conditions that led to prohibition are largely no longer with us: a world war, disenfranchised women and sky high alcohol consumption, mostly by men. But the “social concerns” about alcohol have not disappeared. What have we learned about alcohol problems and how best to address them at this time in our history? Here we will summarize some of our recommendations just submitted to the province’s Liquor Policy Review (see carbc.ca).

Alcohol is enjoyed by most British Columbians, often with little or no harm and the government collects more than $1 billion in revenues. However, B.C. Vital Statistics reports 18,752 alcohol-related deaths and the BC Centre for Disease Control 190,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions between 2002 and 2011 — with a distinct upward trend. Police tell us that most of their work is alcohol-related — the 2011 Stanley Cup riots a striking example. How can a balance be struck between convenient access and preventing these harms?

The International Research Agency on Cancer has declared alcohol to be carcinogenic but 70 per cent of Canadians are unaware of this alcohol-cancer link. A modern approach to liquor would provide consumers with clear advice on health and safety effects using clear messages on bottles and in stores.

In 2011, the Canadian health ministers approved low-risk drinking guidelines to advise consumers on minimizing health and safety risks, up to 10 standard drinks per week for a woman, 15 for a man. However, drinkers do not know the number of standard drinks in their favourite beverages. For example, do you know how many standard drinks are in a regular bottle of 14 per cent wine? It’s 6.2. A modern alcohol policy would also put labels on bottles and cans stating the number of standard drinks they contain.

A modern approach to regulating alcohol should also be well targeted to the highest risk drinking settings and products to best protect health and safety. Police data show that around 10 per cent of bars and clubs contribute 70 per cent of related crime and violence. In some U.S. states and in Australia, police track where impaired drivers were last drinking and collect the names of the premises — it’s been found they are mostly the same 10 per cent that contribute the violent incidents. Police and licensing authorities should have access to such data in B.C. to support their efforts to keep our communities safe.

The highest risk alcohol products among the more than 100,000 available in our province tend to be those that have the highest alcohol content and the lowest prices (e.g. 75 per cent rum, 23 per cent fortified wines and eight per cent beers). High caffeine content is also a major concern — the combination of alcohol with stimulants results in more consumption, less fear and more energy to take risks, often with disastrous results. In August there were 25 products available in government stores for less than one dollar per standard drink. Our research has shown that each time minimum prices are increased in B.C., alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths decrease significantly. Targeting the very cheapest alcohol is effective and prices do not need to be hiked across the board — some low-alcohol-content drinks could be cheaper.

B.C. research shows that increased private stores come with a cost to the public’s health. They are less likely to check age ID, sometimes undercut government minimum prices and are open for longer hours. In Alberta, privatization came with increased consumption and reduced government revenues. The government’s current moratorium on new private liquor store licences should stay.

Alcohol is a very special commodity. Our liquor laws and regulatory bodies need to recognize this and be mandated to help minimize public health and safety risks. And we consumers need to be helped to make informed choices. Perhaps then as a community we might demand a more evidence-based approach to alcohol policy and not just look the other way.

Tim Stockwell is director of the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria. Dan Reist, assistant director (Knowledge Exchange), and doctoral student Kara Thompson contributed to this report.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun  

 

B.C. government launches new website to get public opinion on changing liquor laws 

By THE CANADIAN PRESS, CP September 14, 2013  

 

The provincial government has launched a new website inviting public opinion on changing liquor laws.Photograph by: CARL DE SOUZA , AFP/Getty Images

BURNABY, B.C. — The B.C. government has launched a new website inviting the public to offer ideas on changes to liquor laws.

Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform John Yap introduced the site Saturday while touring a brewery and said people can get involved through blog discussions, Twitter chats and feedback forms.

He said the province is changing liquor laws on the use and sale of beer, wine and spirits to improve customer service and grow the economy while ensuring public health and safety.

The website features a look at the history of liquor in B.C., since the 1800s including prohibition in 1917, the licensing of the province’s first winery in 1923 to make loganberry wine and changes to laws this year.

Several meetings including various groups have been held this month in Victoria to discuss reforms to B.C. liquor laws.

They include the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, the Victoria Police Department and the Vancouver Island Helath Authority.

Yap is meeting with more groups through to October.

Input will be gathered on the website until the consultation process ends on Oct. 31, and a final report will be presented to Attorney General Suzanne Anton by Nov. 25.

“Our government has been hearing from industry and stakeholders about changes they would like made to B.C.’s liquor laws,” Anton said in a news release. “This is the first review to take place in over a decade and the time is now to also hear from British Columbians.”

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On the Net:

www.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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