News / Vancouver

B.C. liquor control forces charity to cancel wine auction

Don’t bother donating a bottle of wine to a charity auction unless you want to run afoul of B.C.’s liquor laws.

The B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch thwarted a Victoria theatre’s fundraising plan of selling donated wine at an event, even though the theatre held the exact same event without problem for the past two years.

The Belfry Theatre was forced to cancel its upcoming wine auction after the LCLB said that “under no circumstance” could the theatre legally auction privately donated wine, theatre general manager Ivan Habel said.

The last-minute order forbidding the auction will cost the non-profit group $30,000 – about $10,000 in sunk costs and $20,000 in expected revenue, Habel said.

“They gave us all kinds of reasons, none of them which made any sense whatsoever,” he said.

He questions the logic of the government taking “critical” revenue sources away from charities. The donated wine, he pointed out, came from private cellars and had been purchased at some point.

But it seems the ministry might be open to loosening restrictions.

A ministry spokesperson reached Thursday said they are “moving quickly to find interim measures to deal with these types of situations.”

“As well, we have asked legal counsel to investigate options because changing this rule may require a legislative amendment.”

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