BC's Liquor Policy Review

There are some patterns emerging in the public feedback on John Yap's first blog post regarding modernizing BC's liquor laws. I spent some time reading through them so you wouldn't have to. In my entirely unscientific review, here's what I've found people want:

  • Allow drinking in public, especially in parks. This is definitely one of the top suggestions people are raising. If you've ever seen Edinburgh (where public drinking is allowed) on a Sunday morning, you might give this idea some sober second thought (so much broken glass ...). If you've even been harassed by Vancouver's finest at English Bay for your bottle of pinot, this idea makes sense.
  • The government should get out of liquor distribution. I think this idea needs some serious consideration.  It would be worthwhile to revisit why our government is in the distribution business at all. Is there a compelling reason besides a desire to hang on to all that revenue? Would other models result in similar net revenue for the province?  Would other models make better sense for consumers or business, or the economy as a whole?
  • Allow liquor to be sold in grocery stores. John Yap dedicated his second blog post on this topic, so clearly this idea is getting his attention.
  • Allow minors accompanies by adults into pubs. I was surprised by the number of comments asking for this. I don't have kids, but I do recall trying to go to a pub one Sunday afternoon with a friend and his toddler and being given the bum's rush. What the hell?

Other ideas I liked but not getting as much popular attention:

  • Reduce liquor taxes. I'll refine this to suggest reducing markups on spirits at least. Spirits in this province have an effective retail markup of 170% versus 123% for wine and beer. These should be equalized. There is a very good reason why many craft distilleries in BC choose not to sell their products through the Liquor Distribution Board: they can't afford to.
  • Give bars and restaurants wholesale pricing. It's kind of amazing that they don't already get that. It certainly helps to explain why we pay two or three times retail for that bottle of wine. Think about this the next time you buy a $60 bottle of BC wine at a restaurant -- the winery probably takes $10 to pay for their operating and production costs.
  • Allow home distilling. New Zealand decided enforcing this law wasn't worth the expense, so the legalized it. It can be done without dire consequences. This may be a giant leap when we can probably only expect the province to take baby steps, but it's worth mentioning.

Here's how you can express your ideas on this topic. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that this whole exercise leads to some positive and progressive changes in the province.