Victoria waits for B.C.’s Happy Hour

The pending introduction of happy hour at B.C. bars and restaurants is being met with cautious optimism by one Victoria councillor

Daniel Palmer

News staff

The pending introduction of happy hour at B.C. bars and restaurants is being met with cautious optimism by one Victoria councillor.

Premier Christy Clark last week announced the province will relax provincial liquor laws to create happy hour, which allows liquor licence holders to reduce alcohol prices during a specified time period.

But the devil will be in the details as to how those changes are rolled out, said Coun. Chris Coleman.

“I think the policy works in terms of getting people in, but the question is then what distress it creates on police resources,” Coleman said. “It could be subject to some abuse, or it could be run in a very community minded way. I think what the province is trying to get to is get to more of a European model that’s seen as more progressive.”

B.C. introduced minimum retail liquor prices to help curb binge drinking and impaired driving problems in 2002. The roughly 10 per cent boost in alcohol prices resulted in a substantial decrease in alcohol-attributed deaths, according to work done by the Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. at the University of Victoria.

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall has also advocated for an annual adjustment of minimum drink prices to adjust for inflation, but Clark hasn’t yet weighed in on specific price points.

The province also intends to make its Serving it Right liquor training mandatory for all servers in licensed restaurants, as well as staff at B.C. Liquor Stores and rural agency and wine stores. Licensees, managers, sales and serving staff “should also be required to recertify,” according to a government news release.

Last week Clark and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap, who led the public consultation on liquor law reform, announced that regulations would be eased for winery tasting rooms. Farm markets will also be allowed to offer samples and sales of locally made beer, wine and spirits.

Minors will also be allowed in some liquor primary establishments under the new rules.

A full report on liquor law reform is expected in February.

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