There was much excitement as the new year began and the BC liquor review officially wrapped up with the announcement that all seventy-three recommendations from the extensive consultation had been accepted by the BC government.
What does this mean for the hospitality industry in British Columbia? For now, we wait. The length of time it will take to implement all of the recommendations, and the extent to which some will be executed, is questionable. After years, decades even, of out-of-date policies and procedures, change won’t happen overnight.

But some things we have to look forward to, from both the consumer and business viewpoints…
Rather than corralling beer drinkers into a cordoned-off area within festivals, the “beer garden” will cease to exist. It should, in theory, be more civilized for responsible adults to take their beverage of choice and wander within a large-scale event, rather than be forced to sit behind a fence and miss the experience of a festival.  But note the word responsible.

Happy hours will be accepted, with reduced prices on drinks and perhaps appies. Before anyone gets visions of an all-out “Coyote Ugly” bar scene, it should be noted that happy hour concept typically occurs in the late afternoon when establishments are looking to fill seats. Who would discount food and beverage during peak hours? On a recent trip to the US, happy hour was happening all around me at a pub. I hardly noticed.

There were also children in the pub, enjoying cheeseburgers and, dare I say, not noticing happy hour either. Kids will now be able to join their parents in licensed establishments, within certain hours, to enjoy a meal together.

Did you know, if you’re enjoying a glass of fine BC wine in a hotel bar or restaurant, you can’t take it with you to your room? That’s going to change. Rather than having to slam down a drink so you don’t violate licensing parameters, you’ll be able to graciously walk with your beverage from the bar to your room to sip at your own pace.

The review promises easier licensing, a less bogged down system for applying for special occasion licences – good news for event planners – and the sale of products at farmers’ markets and secondary tasting rooms, which bodes well for producers and should provide tourists with more opportunities to taste and buy what BC has to offer.

All in all, good news, but as the changes come, let’s all be responsible with them.