Alcohol pricing and availability relaxing in B.C.

Beginning in this spring, fewer restrictions will be in place against consumers of alcohol in British Columbia

Beginning in this spring, fewer restrictions will be in place against consumers of alcohol in British Columbia.

Two changes are coming on Wednesday, April 1st; certain grocery stores in the province will be able to sell wine produce 100 per cent B.C. – and rural and private liquor stores will have access to the same warehouse pricing as those operated by the government.

“We’ve raised many issues [regarding alcohol policy] on behalf of constituents,” said Member of Legislative Assembly for Columbia River-Revelstoke. “We’ve been told to wait for reform packages and this is it after all these years.”

The two policy changes reflect a report of 73 recommendations that were supported late in 2013 by parliamentary secretary for liquor reform John Yap. The reforms are receiving a warm reception.

“B.C. liquor laws were outdated and this has been a long time coming,” said Doug Clovechok, MLA hopeful for the 2017 provincial election.

“I don’t see any problems with it,” Invermere mayor Gerry Taft said.

The policies that were changed last week didn’t need to undergo the legislative process, but many of the other recommended changed will. Mr. Macdonald expects that to happen during the spring session of legislature, which begins during the second week of February. But he’s worried about how the details will hammer out.

“It’s uncertain in some areas whats going to happen,” he said. “There’s so much money involved [between the] liquor lobby groups, and the vested interest of government revenue – those need to be considered.”

While policies can be reversed relatively easily, legislative changes cannot.

“So it’s important to get it right. What I would encourage people to do is continue with feedback to the office in terms of what works and what doesn’t.”

He said that it leads into a bigger discussion as to whether or not the government should rely so heavily on “vice” taxes.

And while Mr. Macdonald does hope to see changes made, he worries that the topic of alcohol will distract voters from more important issues.

“They’ve used it fairly effectively to change the channel on a particular news cycle,” he said. “Whether its Mount Polley, or the inappropriate firing of health researchers – at a time when people start to focus on failures of government, [the Liberal Party] will pop up with an alcohol announcement.”