Opening up a beer like everyone else
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
The province of British Columbia recently put new liquor laws into effect. Among other changes, non-liquor primary businesses (such as a store or salon) can now sell booze, and hotels can serve drinks in the lobby, with patrons even having the privilege to carry those drinks back to their room.
I embrace and welcome these laws. British Columbia has always had some of the strictest liquor laws in the country, and even the world (except in countries where alcohol is illegal, of course). However, our alcohol economy is still tightly controlled and regulated in ways that do not meet demand.
While many of these laws are welcomed, they still do not address some of the fundamental needs of consumers in the area. We want bars and clubs serving later, alcohol in grocery stores (which is technically legal but blocked by other laws about distance from a liquor store), and the right to drink a beer on the beach. We want lower prices. The hypocrisy of alcohol being sold at a much higher profit margin when it’s being served versus in bottles for later consumption will always astound me. Also, why can a bar sell a bottle of beer at midnight, but a liquor store must be closed by 11 p.m.? If a book store is allowed to sell a glass of wine, why can’t a grocery store sell a bottle of wine?
Although these laws went into effect provincially, many of the changes still require implementation by municipalities, who can also set their own requirements. If the City of Vancouver declares a moratorium on licences to sell alcohol in a retail environment, no one will be allowed to do so, despite the provincial law saying it’s okay. Alcohol is tightly controlled on a municipal and provincial level for no real reason. It makes no sense that one can drive over to Alberta and suddenly have the privilege of buying alcohol in a store at later hours and at the age of 18 instead of 19.In Alberta, liquor stores are open as late as 2 a.m. Beer and wine is freely sold in grocery stores in Quebec. Outside of the US and Canada, open alcohol laws aren’t a thing—one is free to enjoy a beer on the beach without being fined. While open container laws are designed to cut down on rowdiness, it’s well-known that people still get drunk in public anyway. It’s very easy to pour alcohol into a container that does not appear to contain booze, so why do we have to act like teenagers and do this instead of peacefully enjoying a cooler in an open space?
Our laws are getting better, but alcohol is still ridiculously expensive and controlled. Perhaps with the upcoming election results, we’ll be able to see liquor laws that don’t resemble something out of the 1920s.