Extended hours for breweries and distilleries, more outdoor patio space, alcohol sales in grocery stores in Vancouver

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

VANCOUVER City Council on Wednesday night approved a suite of changes to Vancouver’s liquor licensing system to streamline regulations, boost local business and enhance the City’s social vibrancy. The new changes include:

* Allowing grocery stores to sell wine, beer and/or liquor through a wine-in-store model;

* Allowing arts and culture establishments, like museums and galleries to sell alcohol;

* Boosting outdoor patio liquor seats;

* Extending brewery and distillery lounge hours until midnight; and

* Supporting restaurants to operate as bars after 10 p.m., withdrawing the requirement that kitchens need to stay open while alcohol is being served.

“The City’s new liquor rules give local business a boost and enhance our vibrant food, nightlife and arts and culture scene by allowing more flexibility in how and where business can sell alcohol,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “It’s important to strike a balance in a liquor strategy that grows and maintains a vibrant nightlife, while upholding public health and safety particularly in the downtown core.”

“As we saw through the discussion at council last night, Liquor Policy is a complex topic that has to balance culture, community and economy, while also protecting the health and safety of our residents. The passionate response shows how important these policy changes are in Vancouver and the many impacts they can have. We feel the updates approved by Council will let us to move forward in a fair and balanced way that will enhance community vitality, support local businesses, and mitigate the negative impacts of alcohol on residents,” said Kaye Krishna, General Manager of Development, Buildings and Licensing.

To support public health and safety, the new liquor regulations also include:

* Requiring liquor establishments to publish drink sizes and strengths on their menus so patrons can have better information when making drink choices.

* Partnering with the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) and Vancouver Coastal Health on education and support programs as well as enhanced enforcement

* Piloting a “last entry” program along Granville Street to help manage crowds outside of clubs and bars. One hour before closing, establishments will not allow re-entry of existing patrons or for new patrons to enter.

As part of the new liquor strategy, Council has directed staff to establish a working group of stakeholders in the Granville Entertainment District including local bars and restaurants, Barwatch, the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Coastal Health and community organizations, including women’s organizations, to improve consultation and co-ordination of efforts to reduce street disorder and gender-based violence, and to improve business in the area. The working group will report back to the City on the ‘last entry’ pilot program’s effectiveness after six months.