September 14, 2013 11:51 pm

UPDATE: B.C.’s liquor policy review website launches

British Columbians will get their say on whether they think the province’s liquor laws need to be modernized.

John Yap,  parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform, made the announcement on UNfiltered with Jill Krop, saying they want to hear from British Columbians.

Starting Saturday, go to gov.bc.ca and click on ‘liquor policy review’ and let the government know what you would like to see changed.

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“It has been over 12 years since we had a comprehensive review of liquor policy,” said Yap.

There will also be Twitter Town Halls where residents can also have their say.

Yap will also be meeting with stakeholders who have a business interest in this liquor policy review.

“Part of this review is to get a read on attitudes, and since the last comprehensive review, I expect attitudes among British Columbians have shifted.”

Some are concerned about possible changes to the liquor laws.

“Let’s talk about the fact that in North America, every 45 minutes someone is killed with a drunk driver,” said Michael McCoy from the Touchstone Family Association. “Let’s talk about the fact that 80 per cent of the children who live in this country, who are neglected, abused, or abandoned, live in alcohol and drug abusing households. So I think that when we’re talking about changing the laws, what we’re talking about is increasing revenue. Increasing revenue for government and for private business. And I want to be really clear, I support that strongly. However, what I’ve experienced in my 40 years in the community service and family service sector, is the amount of intake by government and by business does not find its way to family support programs, and it does not find its way into protecting children.”

Yap said there has to be a balanced approach to changing the liquor laws. “We have taken steps to say that drinking and driving is simply not on.”

McCoy said, in his opinion, with more lax liquor laws, there will be an increase in family violence and child abuse. “Is any government going to tell me that that’s worth the risk?” he asked.

Mark Hicken, a lawyer specializing in the wine industry, said they support the government’s measures to increase public safety. “There’s not necessarily a correlation between modernizing our laws and immediately having all kinds of social problems,” he said. “I think British Columbians are smart enough to know, they’ve travelled to other jurisdictions, and if you actually look at the statistics, the statistics on social problems related to alcohol, they’re not necessarily any worse in B.C. than they are anywhere else.”

Many British Columbians would like to see the price of liquor lowered.

“The prices in British Columbia are higher than they would be in other parts of the world,” said Tony Wilson, a franchise lawyer with Boughton Law. “And I take issue with whether social reference pricing works at all, when you make the comparison as you did Jill a second ago, about California. Are there stupefying levels of alcoholism in California because the liquor price is lower? With that logic, British Columbia should be a province of teetotalers, which I don’t think is the case.”

McCoy said the government needs to put more money into children and family support if they are going to relax the liquor laws.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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