Petition Closed
Petitioning Government of British Columbia (and electoral candidates for that Gov't)

Government of British Columbia: Improve liquor laws to facilitate live music for people of all ages!


It's widely known that BC's liquor laws are outdated - even Rolling Stone Magazine is talking about it! In reality, they're more than just outdated. Our liquor laws are ageist, stifling, and dysfunctional. In particular, they make it very difficult for music venues to admit people under the age of 19 - a demographic that includes about 20% of British Columbians. We believe this is wrong, because music is good for everyone. We are urging the Government of BC - as well as all of the candidates running for that government - to support the following three improvements to BC's liquor laws:

1) Create a new liquor license that permits minors on the premises of live music venues while alcohol is served to those aged 19 and older.

2) Overhaul BC’s Special Occasion Licenses and base the categories of licenses on audience size rather than public vs. private.

3) Immediately repeal Policy Directive 12-09, which disallows liquor primary venues from temporarily de-licensing to host an event for people of all ages.

***Read on for an explanation of each suggestion***

 

 

 

1) Create a new liquor license that permits minors on the premises of live music venues while alcohol is served to those aged 19 and older.

     Under existing liquor laws, the only permanent liquor-serving performance spaces that can allow minors on the premises are theatres, restaurants, and stadiums. But because many concert-goers want to dance, don’t want to eat, and don't like stadiums, most live music venues do not fit into any of those three categories.

     In this expensive province, venues often rely on alcohol sales to cover expenses. In order to do that legally, many facilities have to close their doors to minors, even though a lot of those people could care less about alcohol and simply want to see their favourite bands perform. Watching and playing live music are extremely healthy and beneficial activities for people of all ages, and our government should be encouraging them.

     Further, we believe age restrictions on concerts are a matter of human rights; it’s immoral that 20% of our province’s population cannot attend most concerts simply because of their date of birth! It would be wrong to ban people from concerts because of their race, gender, sexuality, or religion, and it’s wrong to ban them because of their age too. 

     While ending all age restrictions may require a broader discussion, we believe the time is right for British Columbia to introduce a new license that permits cultural facilities to allow minors inside while serving alcohol to those aged 19 and older. We feel that fears of underage drinking in mixed-age facilities are greatly exaggerated, and since the LCLB would still have the power to issue or revoke licenses as they see fit, the minimal risk is worth the considerable reward. Many US states and European countries allow non-drinking minors on the premises of liquor primary establishments; it’s time for British Columbia to catch up.

 

2) Overhaul BC’s Special Occasion Licenses and base the categories of licenses on audience size rather than public vs. private.

     Special Occasion Licenses (SOLs) allow a facility without a permanent liquor license to serve alcohol on ‘special occasions.’ Currently there are two types of SOLs:


• “A private special occasion is an event where attendance is limited to invited guests, members and staff of an organization, or persons to whom advance tickets have been given or sold (tickets must not be sold at the door).” These licenses are quite affordable ($25) and quick and easy to attain (they can be purchased up to the day of the event at any BC Liquor Store).


• “A public special occasion is an event where anyone may attend, either by obtaining a ticket at the door or simply by entering the event location.” These licenses are less affordable ($100), must be purchased at least six weeks before the date of the event, and in Vancouver, they need approval from the Vancouver Police Department Emergency and Operational Planning Unit, which requires even more time and money. 

     In the social media age, when it’s possible to ‘invite’ thousands of people to an event at the click of a button, the concept of an ‘invitation’ seems outdated and obsolete. And, since an attendee can buy ‘advance tickets’ on their cell phone five minutes before an event begins, the distinction between ‘advance tickets’ and ‘tickets at the door’ only serves to make it more difficult to hold smaller events where advance ticketing technology isn't available. On the other hand, we find it very odd that there's no differentiation based on the size of the event: a rock concert for 500 invited guests that buy tickets in advance is considered a ‘private special event,’ but a piano recital that ten people wander into off the street and pay their cover charge at the door for is considered a ‘public special event.’

     Instead of it being easy to license a 'private' event and hard to license a 'public' event, we think it should be easy to license an event for, say, less than 100 people, and harder to license an event for a larger audience. Such a change would mean an increase in the number of venues that actually get liquor licenses. Under the present system, many organizers of small public events don't bother, which sometimes results in the unsafe distribution of liquor, and inevitably leads to the fining and/or ‘shutting down’ of offending venues.

 

3) Immediately repeal Policy Directive 12-09, which disallows liquor primary venues from temporarily de-licensing to host an event for people of all ages.

     Prior to 2013, liquor-primary establishments like bars and clubs could temporarily 'de-license' to host an event for people of all ages. This meant a nightclub, for example, could close their bar, lock up their liquor, and allow minors on the premises to partake in whatever event was happening there that night. Since most liquor primary establishments make their income from liquor sales, it was rare that such a facility chose to de-license, but on the occasions when they did, it provided a valuable service to under-aged people who are legally barred from entering many cultural spaces. 

     Since Policy Directive 12-09 was instituted on January 15, 2013, “de-licensing for these types of events is no longer permitted.” The directive cites anecdotal and spurious claims from “police, LCLB and communities” that minors attending de-licensed events “have been found to be consuming liquor either prior to entering or outside the establishment during the course of the event.”

     As has been well documented (here, herehere, here, here, and here) we believe this is not a good reason to disallow 20% of British Columbians from experiencing live music at liquor primary establishments. First of all, since the under-age drinking referred to in the directive is allegedly taking place outside of the establishment, we believe these alleged crimes should be dealt with outside of the establishment too. Secondly, to punish an entire demographic of the population because of alleged crimes committed by a few individuals is ageist, unjust, and quite frankly, it’s appalling. Third, since minors are not going to suddenly stop liking music, by removing safe, legal locations for all-ages concerts, this directive only serves to encourage more concerts be held at potentially unsafe and illegal locations such as house parties. Finally, we feel that this directive will lead to an increase in underage drinking, as minors will have fewer alcohol-free locations to congregate, and in order to pursue their love of music, they will be driven to acquire fake IDs which also allow them to purchase alcohol.

     Since it was clearly misguided and unjust, we believe Policy Directive 12-09 should be repealed immediately.

Letter to
Government of British Columbia (and electoral candidates for that Gov't)
It's widely known that BC's liquor laws are outdated - even Rolling Stone Magazine is talking about it! In reality, they're more than just outdated. Our liquor laws are ageist, stifling, and dysfunctional. In particular, they make it very difficult for music venues to admit people under the age of 19 - a demographic that includes about 20% of British Columbians. We believe this is wrong, because music is good for everyone. We are urging the Government of BC - as well as all of the candidates running for that government - to implement the following three improvements to BC's liquor laws:

1) Create a new liquor license that permits minors on the premises of live music venues while alcohol is served to those aged 19 and older.

2) Overhaul BC’s Special Occasion Licenses and base the categories of licenses on audience size rather than public vs. private.

3) Immediately repeal Policy Directive 12-09, which disallows liquor primary venues from temporarily de-licensing to host an event for people of all ages.

***Read on for an explanation of each suggestion***







1) Create a new liquor license that permits minors on the premises of live music venues while alcohol is served to those aged 19 and older.

Under existing liquor laws, the only permanent liquor-serving performance spaces that can allow minors on the premises are theatres, restaurants, and stadiums. But because many concert-goers want to dance, don’t want to eat, and don't like stadiums, most live music venues do not fit into any of those three categories.

In this expensive province, venues often rely on alcohol sales to cover expenses. In order to do that legally, many facilities have to close their doors to minors, even though a lot of those people could care less about alcohol and simply want to see their favourite bands perform. Watching and playing live music are extremely healthy and beneficial activities for people of all ages, and our government should be encouraging them.

Further, we believe age restrictions on concerts are a matter of human rights; it’s immoral that 20% of our province’s population cannot attend most concerts simply because of their date of birth! It would be wrong to ban people from concerts because of their race, gender, sexuality, or religion, and it’s wrong to ban them because of their age too.

While ending all age restrictions may require a broader discussion, we believe the time is right for British Columbia to introduce a new license that permits cultural facilities to allow minors inside while serving alcohol to those aged 19 and older. We feel that fears of underage drinking in mixed-age facilities are greatly exaggerated, and since the LCLB would still have the power to issue or revoke licenses as they see fit, the minimal risk is worth the considerable reward. Many US states and European countries allow non-drinking minors on the premises of liquor primary establishments; it’s time for British Columbia to catch up.



2) Overhaul BC’s Special Occasion Licenses and base the categories of licenses on audience size rather than public vs. private.

Special Occasion Licenses (SOLs) allow a facility without a permanent liquor license to serve alcohol on ‘special occasions.’ Currently there are two types of SOLs:


• “A private special occasion is an event where attendance is limited to invited guests, members and staff of an organization, or persons to whom advance tickets have been given or sold (tickets must not be sold at the door).” These licenses are quite affordable ($25) and quick and easy to attain (they can be purchased up to the day of the event at any BC Liquor Store).


• “A public special occasion is an event where anyone may attend, either by obtaining a ticket at the door or simply by entering the event location.” These licenses are less affordable ($100), must be purchased at least six weeks before the date of the event, and in Vancouver, they need approval from the Vancouver Police Department Emergency and Operational Planning Unit, which requires even more time and money.

In the social media age, when it’s possible to ‘invite’ thousands of people to an event at the click of a button, the concept of an ‘invitation’ seems outdated and obsolete. And, since an attendee can buy ‘advance tickets’ on their cell phone five minutes before an event begins, the distinction between ‘advance tickets’ and ‘tickets at the door’ only serves to make it more difficult to hold smaller events where advance ticketing technology isn't available. On the other hand, we find it very odd that there's no differentiation based on the size of the event: a rock concert for 500 invited guests that buy tickets in advance is considered a ‘private special event,’ but a piano recital that ten people wander into off the street and pay their cover charge at the door for is considered a ‘public special event.’

Instead of it being easy to license a 'private' event and hard to license a 'public' event, we think it should be easy to license an event for, say, less than 100 people, and harder to license an event for a larger audience. Such a change would mean an increase in the number of venues that actually get liquor licenses. Under the present system, many organizers of small public events don't bother, which sometimes results in the unsafe distribution of liquor, and inevitably leads to the fining and/or ‘shutting down’ of offending venues.



3) Immediately repeal Policy Directive 12-09, which disallows liquor primary venues from temporarily de-licensing to host an event for people of all ages.

Prior to 2013, liquor-primary establishments like bars and clubs could temporarily 'de-license' to host an event for people of all ages. This meant a nightclub, for example, could close their bar, lock up their liquor, and allow minors on the premises to partake in whatever event was happening there that night. Since most liquor primary establishments make their income from liquor sales, it was rare that such a facility chose to de-license, but on the occasions when they did, it provided a valuable service to under-aged people who are legally barred from entering many cultural spaces.

Since Policy Directive 12-09 was instituted on January 15, 2013, “de-licensing for these types of events is no longer permitted.” The directive cites anecdotal and spurious claims from “police, LCLB and communities” that minors attending de-licensed events “have been found to be consuming liquor either prior to entering or outside the establishment during the course of the event.”

As has been well documented (here, here, here, here, here, and here) we believe this is not a good reason to disallow 20% of British Columbians from experiencing live music at liquor primary establishments. First of all, since the under-age drinking referred to in the directive is allegedly taking place outside of the establishment, we believe these alleged crimes should be dealt with outside of the establishment too. Secondly, to punish an entire demographic of the population because of alleged crimes committed by a few individuals is ageist, unjust, and quite frankly, it’s appalling. Third, since minors are not going to suddenly stop liking music, by removing safe, legal locations for all-ages concerts, this directive only serves to encourage more concerts be held at potentially unsafe and illegal locations such as house parties. Finally, we feel that this directive will lead to an increase in underage drinking, as minors will have fewer alcohol-free locations to congregate, and in order to pursue their love of music, they will be driven to acquire fake IDs which also allow them to purchase alcohol.

Since it was clearly misguided and unjust, we believe Policy Directive 12-09 should be repealed immediately.