Changes to BC's ridiculous liquor laws

Dec 19 2017, 7:02 am

Today, Minister Rich Coleman announced several changes that will help support local breweries and distilleries, create new business opportunities and revise current liquor laws in British Columbia. This is something that needs to be looked at more as our liquor laws are still stuck in the dark ages. 

We’ve talked about BC’s draconian liquor laws and the outrage over banning all age shows at venues with liquor licences.

In a province with such outdated laws, many of us will take any improvement we can get, and today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.

Changes announced today

  • Brewers and distillers now can apply to have an on-site consumption area such as a lounge, tasting room or event area.
  • Small- and medium-sized liquor manufacturers will be allowed up to three common ownership and business relationships with licensed establishments located off their manufacturing site.
  • Rules around how liquor manufacturers can promote their products in bars and restaurants have been simplified by removing the requirement for a buy-sell agreement.
  • Distilled liquor products that consist of 100 per cent British Columbia agricultural raw materials and are distilled in B.C. by licensed distilleries are now eligible for mark-up exempt direct sales.
  • An honourary B.C. wine envoy will be named with a mandate to work to complement existing efforts to open up domestic markets for B.C. wines.
  • Wine stores will become licensees under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
  • The criteria on whether private liquor stores can relocate within one kilometre of an existing liquor store are now set out in regulation rather than policy.
  • All increases to liquor-primary capacity will now require local government input.
  • Allowing rural agency stores to purchase unlimited amounts of beer through their local government liquor store.


Minister Rich Coleman –

“These changes reflect the evolving nature of the liquor industry in British Columbia. As time passes, so does the need to re-evaluate our laws and find ways to ensure we’re doing all we can to create an environment where liquor-related businesses can continue to succeed.”

Mark James, Mark James Group, Owner, Red Truck Brewery –

“We welcome these changes that the provincial government has announced today. We have long-wanted the freedom to include our portfolio of B.C.-brewed, award-winning beer and premium spirits with those products of different suppliers in our liquor primary and food primary licensed establishments. We commend the government on this initiative and believe that, in concert withallowing breweries and distilleries to have onsite lounges or tasting rooms, the timing is perfect.”

Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick –

“These changes will encourage B.C. craft distilleries to use local grains and produce, will support B.C. farmers producing high-quality crops, and are the latest example of the B.C. government’s efforts to create a business environment that attracts investment and rewards innovation. B.C. is internationally respected for our high-quality wines and beers, and is increasingly being looked at as a place of similar opportunity for craft distillers.”

Anthony Frustagli, co-owner, Parallel 49 and St. Augustine’s –

“We are elated by today’s announcement. This is a huge step forward for B.C. craft brewers, vintners, distillers, restaurateurs and publicans. We applaud the government for updating an outdated and archaic law that was impeding progress not only for us but a number of businesses in the craft beer industry. We look forward to sharing the beers which we so carefully craft at Parallel 49 with our valued customers at St. Augustine’s.”


Quick facts

Over the past year, the province has made changes to modernize liquor laws in B.C. including:

Liquor in theatres –

  • Provides flexibility to live-event venues and revises liquor laws for movie theatres.

Corkage – bring your own bottle –

  • Provides opportunities for restaurant customers that want to bring their own wine into a licensed dining establishment.

Personal importation of liquor into B.C. –

  • Allows B.C. residents to bring back an unlimited amount of 100 per cent Canadian wine if it is for personal consumption and purchased from a recognized winery in another province, or choose to have it shipped from the winery directly to their home. Also allows B.C. residents returning from another Canadian province to bring back on-their-person up to nine litres of wine, three litres of spirits, and a combined total of 25.6 litres of beer, cider or coolers for personal consumption.

Licensing of Caterers –

  • Allows caterers to apply for a liquor licence to help them fully meet the food and beverage needs of their clients – this supports industry and strengthens tourism appeal.