Skip to content

Liquor policy review open to residents

Craft beer advocates meet with government officials
Laura Walz

BC residents have a once in a lifetime opportunity to comment on the provincial government’s liquor laws, according to a representative of an advocacy organization.

Paddy Treavor recently moved to Powell River and started the Powell River chapter of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) BC. CAMRA BC is an independent, volunteer-run consumer organization championing the cause of the BC craft beer consumer. It is financed through membership fees and at this point has close to 1,400 members, both individual and corporate, with branches located in Victoria, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, South Fraser and Powell River.

BC is reviewing its liquor policies and has opened up the process to residents through a website, Along with recording public input and generating discussion, the website features blog discussions, Twitter chats and feedback forms.

Treavor, along with Adam Chatburn, CAMRA Vancouver Branch president, and Rick Green, president of CAMRA BC who grew up in Powell River, met with John Yap, parliamentary secretary for liquor reform, and Suzanne Anton, attorney general and minister of justice, on Tuesday, September 24 to talk about changes they’d like to see made to BC’s liquor policy.

Treavor said their main points are: discretionary pricing, allowing bar owners the option to change prices throughout the day (i.e. happy hour); lowering the mark-up on growlers, 1.9-litre refillable jugs; allowing craft beer sales in growlers and limited packaged product sales at farmers’ markets; legislated draft beer serving sizes; automatic craft beer listings in Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) stores; changing some of the rules for special occasion liquor licences; allowing minors into liquor primary establishments with responsible adults during the day; and liquor parity for all liquor.

“It’s a rare opportunity for us because this is the first time in my lifetime I can actually remember there being a public consultation,” Treavor said. “To get a face-to-face meeting with people who actually have the power with a stroke of the pen to change the laws is a rare, rare chance in this province. We’re taking it very seriously, as are many other groups.”

While CAMRA is trying to make craft beer in BC more convenient and accessible, the organization also stresses responsible drinking, Treavor said. “There are those laws in place to enforce them already,” he said. “It’s a fact of treating us like adults—we are adults—and not to paint us all with the same brush.”

If there is a licensee or a consumer abusing the law, then they should be dealt with, he said. “We support that 100 per cent,” he said. “We don’t want to see minors going into licensed establishments and drinking. That’s the last thing we want.”

Treavor pointed out he can take his three-year-old daughter into a restaurant that has 60 taps of beer, a 10-page wine list and 175 people, but he can’t take her into the neighbourhood pub down the block that has maybe three or four different kinds of beer and a quiet atmosphere that has maybe 10 people in it. “It’s more suited to a family than this restaurant,” he said. “The laws haven’t grown with the market and we’re hoping they’ll look at that.”

Treavor encourages residents to become involved in the process. “This is the one chance in people’s lifetime that they have a say in what goes on with our alcohol policies,” he said. “I guarantee you almost everybody who’s enjoyed a drink in British Columbia at one time or another has grumbled about our alcohol policies. This is the chance for them to speak out and if they don’t speak out now, they really don’t have a leg to stand on next time they have a complaint. This is their time.”

The public consultation process ends on October 31.

Interested readers can find out more about CAMRA online. Treavor was president of the Vancouver branch of CAMRA until he stepped down in January because he knew he was moving to Powell River. He also writes a blog, VanEast Beer Blog.