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B.C. gets another taste of liquor reform

Premier Christy Clark - Black Press
Premier Christy Clark
— image credit: Black Press

Premier Christy Clark visited a West Kelowna winery Wednesday to give citizens another sip of liquor law reform.

The government supports recommendations in a recent review of liquor policy to make it easier to sample and buy wine, beer and spirits from small B.C. producers, Clark said.

Regulations will be changed to allow manufacturers to offer tastings outside their current tasting rooms at place such as picnic areas. The government also plans to make it easier for ski resorts and golf courses to temporarily extend their liquor licences for patios and barbecue events.

Farm markets will also be able to host sampling and sales of locally produced alcoholic beverages, Clark said. Beverage manufacturers will also be allowed to sell local products not made on-site.

Clark also promised to work with B.C.'s Liquor Distribution Branch to improve access for B.C. products in government liquor stores.

The government hopes to stimulate further growth in B.C.'s craft industry, which currently consists of 269 wineries, 76 breweries and 27 distilleries. A quality assurance program for breweries and distillers similar to the provinces' Vintners' Quality Alliance group is also being considered.

NDP critic Shane Simpson said most of the changes announced Wednesday are "common sense" reforms that his party has been urging the government to do. Dribbling out a series of promises as Clark and parliamentary secretary John Yap have been doing may be popular, but it is not the way to develop public policy, he said.

"If the cabinet has decided they're supporting some of these recommendations, which presumably they have, then put out the report that supports it," Simpson said.

 

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