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Sting leads to 2nd Victoria business fined $7K after selling beer to teen

Government inspectors hire teenagers to buy beer
Two Victoria businesses have been fined recently for selling beer to minors. (Metro Creative photo)

A second Victoria business has been fined $7,000 for selling beer to a minor.

A B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch decision posted recently says a store operated by the licensee Spinnakers Brew Pub Inc. sold beer to a teen who had been hired by the branch to take part in a sting. The offence occurred on Nov. 14, 2022 at the Spinnakers Spirit Merchants Liquor Store at 176 Wilson St. in Victoria West.

The minor agent was supervised by two branch inspectors as part of the branch’s Minors as Agents Program (MAP) in which teens are hired to purchase alcohol to test liquor licence holders.

“The Minor Agent removed a six pack of Lucky Lager, a liquor product, from the cooler, approached the till, had a short conversation with the sales clerk, bought and paid for the product and left the store,” said the decision. “At no time was the Minor Agent asked to produce identification.”

The infraction was considered a first offence for Spinnakers, which could have been fined as much as $11,000 and/or had its licence suspended.

Earlier this week, the Victoria News revealed that a downtown Victoria restaurant and bar, Little Jumbo, had also been fined $7,000 for selling beer to a minor agent working for the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

READ MORE: ‘Humiliating’: Popular Victoria restaurant fined $7K for serving minor a beer

Spinnakers, which has four liquor licences, put up a defence of due diligence.

“The Licensee takes his responsibilities seriously and believes he has taken all possible steps to prevent the sale of liquor to minors,” said the decision. “The Licensee says his long history of operations without any contraventions is proof of that and that history should be given serious consideration in determining whether the test of due diligence has been met.

“The Licensee says the location of this Establishment presents some particular challenges. A skateboard park used by young persons is located nearby. Attempts by customers to purchase of liquor for minors (“bootlegging”) is a significant problem and the Licensee takes steps to prevent that from happening. Shoplifting is another serious problem for the Licensee.”

The staff member who sold the beer to the minor agent was disciplined, said the decision.

“As a result of the sale to the Minor Agent she was suspended for one day and signed an undertaking to request identification of all customers who appeared to be under the age of 35 years. She was monitored successfully for two days, but subsequently failed the mystery shopper test described below and was terminated.”

The decision highlighted areas of training and systems that were “not adequate.”

“Despite the Licensee having good intentions, I have identified a number of areas where I find the Licensee’s training and systems in relation to prohibiting the sale of liquor to minors are not adequate,” said the decision. “And in any event, I have also noted and am concerned that the sales clerk who sold the liquor to the Minor Agent was not trained according to the Licensee’s standard program; instead, the Licensee relied on her prior experience which fails to meet the standard required for the defence of due diligence. I am aware of the Licensee’s expressed concerns about the burden on licensees, but the sale of liquor is not the sale of milk or coffee, and the potential of negative societal effects due to the sale of liquor to minors demands a higher standard of care.”

People can read the full branch decision here.

Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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