News / Vancouver

B.C. government supports liquor at farmers' markets, relaxes laws

Visitors to farmers’ markets across the province will be able to sample and buy made-in-British Columbia wines, beers and spirits next spring, Premier Christy Clark has announced.

Clark was at West Kelowna’s Volcanic Hills Estate Winery on Wednesday to roll out 12 liquor reforms the government says will help local producers thrive.

“Our liquor regulations are antiquated. They are out of date and they have been that way for a very long time,” said Clark. “Change is coming, citizens asked for change.”

The measures announced Wednesday will allow B.C. liquor to be sampled and sold at farmers markets, festival and competitions.

It also relaxes restrictions on tasting rooms, so that visitors of wineries can – to use Clark’s example – take a glass of wine outside for a picnic instead of being confined to a tasting room.

Producers will be able to set up satellite tasting rooms off-site and even sell other producers’ liquor for increased customer choice.

Jon Bell, president of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, said the measures promote B.C. products made from B.C. ingredients and support the growing buy local movement.

“This is a part of the B.C. farm experience,” he said. “I think this is a real win-win.”

Other recommendations include setting up a quality assurance program for craft beer and artisan spirits, reduce red tape for business trying to obtain a brewery, winery or distillery licenses and increased promotion and awareness of local products at liquor stores and tourism material.

More announcements will follow as government reviews Parliamentary Secretary John Yap’s final Liquor Policy Review report.

The province has previously announced it is looking into allowing liquor to be sold at grocery stores, though a store-within-a-store model.

Clark said the government will take immediate action on the initiatives announced Wednesday, and hopes B.C. liquor will be available at farmers’ markets by the spring.

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