Vancouverites can finally do something that drinkers across the country have been able to do for years: Enjoy a happy hour.
British Columbia will become the last province in the nation to endorse happy hours – the time-honoured rite of discount drinks after work. The change is one of eight new liquor reforms announced last week by Premier Christie Clark, which are set to go into effect this spring.
The happy hour reform will wipe off the books an old regulation barring bars and restaurants from changing their liquor prices over the course of the day. Now, licensed establishments can offer discounts on booze during off-peak hours, wooing patrons with cut-rate beer, wine and other alcohol.
There’s more good news for local drinkers. The antiquated law requiring customers to order food with their drinks at certain “food-primary” establishments is also on its way out. This hated rule required drinkers – even those with no interest in eating – to shell out for food in order to be served alcohol at certain venues, regardless of the time of day or night.
In addition, children will now be permitted inside neighbourhood pubs at certain times of the day, for instance during Sunday brunch, lunch or dinner. Consumers will also be able to carry their drinks between the lounge and restaurant sections of an establishment.
Behind the scenes, liquor licenses will now be available to cooking schools, galleries and spas, chain restaurants will be allowed to transfer liquor between locations and the province’s Serving it Right responsible beverage program will be beefed up.
The changes are part of 70 proposed modifications to B.C.’s outdated liquor laws included in a recent report compiled by the Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform after extensive public consultation. Already endorsed by the premier are rules that will allow liquor sales within grocery stores and also allow farmer’s markets to sell local booze.
The entire report will be released in February and approved changes are expected to be implemented in the spring.