Rifflandia producer applauds B.C. liquor law modernization

Victoria festival producer Nick Blasko hopes some pending liquor changes are passed in advance of summer events

Rifflandia and Rock The Shores producer Nick Blasko is glad to see the province will act on liquor law modernization

Rifflandia and Rock The Shores producer Nick Blasko is glad to see the province will act on liquor law modernization

The producer of Rifflandia and Rock The Shores is praising a B.C. government promise to get rid of separated beer gardens at music festivals.

On Friday, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton announced the government will implement 73 recommended changes to modernize B.C. liquor policy, including the nixing of fenced-off beer gardens at licensed festivals.

“It’s something we’ve wanted for a long time,” said Nick Blasko of Atomique Productions.

Blasko is producing three multi-day music festivals in Greater Victoria this summer, beginning with Rock The Shores at the West Shore Parks and Recreation lower fields in July. Atomique also produces a smaller line-up for the Phillips Backyard Weekender in July, as well as the established Rifflandia Festival each September.

“(Open liquor licencing) happens all over the world, many (U.S.) states have this policy for their festivals,” Blasko said. “It’s not a new dynamic, by any stretch, so there’s lots of precedent to do this properly.”

The new rules will also allow festival producers to apply for temporary liquor licences through a simplified online process.

“This will allow families to stay together at events, reduce costs for festival organizers and make the festival experience that much better for all fans of live music,” said Bob D’Eith, executive director of Music B.C.

Other liquor licencing changes include hard liquor sales in sports stadiums and liquor sales in grocery stores.

Anton warned some recommendations will require longer consultation before legislation is introduced.

Rock The Shores expands to three days

Last Friday, Blasko revealed the third annual Rock The Shores in Colwood will expand from two to three days of concerts this year.

“Our guiding principle is that Rock The Shores is a rock festival,” he said. “Now that Squamish (Valley Music) Festival is announced, we’re in a better position to gauge what everyone else is doing.”

Blasko is also working on a program for the Royal and McPherson theatres’ 100th anniversary in May. Dubbed “Rock The Royal,” the May 24 concert brings together a line-up of Victoria artists.

“We’ll be showcasing four or five Victoria artists and bands who are current, but I want their performances to include some covers of notable songs by earlier Victoria acts,” Blasko said.