As one of the outcomes of the Liquor Policy Review, the provincial government announced today that event organizers will soon be able use a new online portal to apply for their Special Occasion License (SOL) to serve liquor at events.
The free-of-charge pilot program begins on February 2 for small, low-risk events held within the municipalities of Vancouver and Burnaby. This includes weddings, club meetings, fundraisers, sports tournaments and food and beverage events.
A phased rollout of the new online application system will ensure that all bugs are resolved before a wider introduction in early-April to coincide with the start of the festival season.
An SOL is required for special event organizers to serve liquor in a public place outside of a licensed establishment. In the past, SOL applications were performed through a time consuming paper submission process that required multiple trips to a BC Liquor Store, police station and municipal government offices.
“This pilot is the first step toward a paper-free, streamlined application process for Special Occasion Licences,” said Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice. “Not only will the move to an online system improve the speed and efficiency at which applicants are able to obtain their licence, it will increase the link to public health and safety – as police and liquor inspectors will have all the information they need at their fingertips.”
It is estimated that the new online system will reduce the consumption of 100,000 pieces of paper every year. The government says it receives 25,000 SOL applications every year and many will be able to receive immediate approval through the new online application.
Large festivals will also be permitted to use the online application and pay a single fee for an event held at multiple sites. However, a site security plan is still required for the SOL application process of large events and can also be done online.
The multi-day, multi-site Vancouver International Wine Festival will be one of the first large festivals to use the online application to acquire its required SOLs.
“We are looking forward to taking part in the pilot program – we’re pleased to test this new system of an online application that provides us with a checklist of everything we need in advance of applying, and allows us to apply for multiple sites at once,” said Randy Kaardal, Board Chair of the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
“We anticipate this will save our staff some time and effort, which we will now be able to direct to pulling off another incredible Vancouver International Wine Festival.”
Feature Image: Waiter wine via Shutterstock