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Vancouver city council expected to change liquor regulations

Click to play video: 'Vancouver looks at relaxing liquor rules'
Vancouver looks at relaxing liquor rules
Vancouver City Council is being asked to look at a major change to the places you can buy a drink. Current regulations restrict where bars and restaurants can open their doors and as Cassidy Mosconi reports, if it's approved, it will be the most radical change to liquor laws in a generation – Dec 10, 2023

A report is being presented to Vancouver city council this week, with several recommendations centred around the loosening of liquor regulations.

“(The recommendations will look to) essentially end red tape and streamline liquor policy that will affect a lot of restaurants, pub owners and other potential new establishments across the city,” Vancouver city councillor Mike Klassen said.

“It’s a great step. Council is committed to reducing red tape, making things easier, and making sure small business operators can succeed. Our liquor policies have been extremely restrictive compared to other jurisdictions.”

One of the most restrictive policies that is expected to change is the mandatory spacing between liquor-serving establishments.

“For a long time, we have had these distancing rules which means we can’t have establishments right next to each other,” Klassen told Global News. “This takes those requirements away and allows the business owner, in working with the city, to decide what exactly is the right kind of establishment in the right community.”

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Klassen also said the changes will allow non-traditional businesses to serve liquor more easily, as well such as barber shops and spas.

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The recommendations also call for the removal of the Granville Entertainment District’s moratorium on new liquor licenses and increase seating.

“It’s so we can actually see something really exciting like the Cineplex redevelopment, which will include movies, entertainment and, plus, the ability to have hundreds of people inside that establishment which we currently can’t do under these rules,” Klassen said. “The current rules prevent innovation. Allowing these changes will allow the market and businesses to react to what people really want.”

Klassen said he expects the other city councillors, and the mayor, to support the report.

Jeff Guignard, BC’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees’ executive director, said the expected changes are something that has been “a long time coming. It was one of the reasons that the hospitality industry was excited when Vancouver Mayor Sim, and the ABC council, came in,” he said.

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“They committed to trying to make Vancouver a more fun city again, and these are the kind of changes that absolutely will make that difference and bring more vibrancy to our neighbourhoods.”

Guignard said currently in his industry about 50 per cent of establishments are barely breaking even, or are actively losing money.

“This can be caused by economic factors, like inflation or debt levels taken on during the pandemic, but sometimes end up with handcuffs on us around policy and regulations,” Guignard said. “Everyone knows B.C. has a bunch of archaic liquor laws and Vancouver has some silly ones. These (changes) will get a lot of that stuff out of the way. It is really good news for the hospitality industry.”

The report is set to be presented to Vancouver city council on Wednesday.

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