Happy hour prices make pubs sour

Price changes benefit restaurants, not pubs

By Angela Espinoza, News Editor

Happy hour officially started in BC on June 20, introducing new pricing models between 3–6 p.m. However, depending on the quality of some drinks, this pricing actually results in their costs going up.

Pricing for draught beer, cider sleeves, pints, and for bottled or canned beer, ciders, and coolers starts at $0.25 per ounce. Wines and fortified wines, such as sake, will be priced starting from $0.60 per ounce. As for liqueurs and spirits, their prices will start from $3 per ounce.

Immediately this means those purchasing pricier brands will see those prices drop. However, these price changes appear to mostly benefit establishments such as social houses and restaurants—the latter of which will mean customers are not obligated to buy food during happy hour. BC’s many pubs on the other hand are seeing their drink prices go up during happy hour, as they’re accustomed to selling cheaper and local beer and draughts.

BC also has the highest minimum happy hour prices in Canada thus far. Vanicty Buzz pointed out that in Alberta and Saskatchewan, draught beer pricing starts at $0.16 per ounce, just over $0.16 in Ontario, and $0.18 in Manitoba. BC also has the highest prices for wines in Canada, yet one of the lowest liqueur prices.

According to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, as reported by CBC, part of the decision to set the happy hour minimum prices in BC was based on the health and safety of customers in an attempt to prevent acts such as binge drinking.

Beer blogger and previous president of the Campaign for Real Ale Society Paddy Treavor told the Globe and Mail, “[Happy hour prices are] not a real reflection of the economy of the entire province.

“Five dollars by Vancouver standards is a fairly reasonable price … but this policy isn’t just for Vancouver. It isn’t just for the Cactus Clubs, Earls, and Boston Pizzas of the world. It’s for the entire province. You’ve got all these areas where $5 is quite a bit of money to spend on a beer.”

There was also concern with how the implementation of happy hour was delivered. The June 20 announcement was also the same day happy hours prices were to begin—something a number of establishments were not previously aware of. Sam Yehia, owner of Malone’s Urban Drinkery and the Cambie, told the Globe and Mail that no bars or restaurants had been notified of the price changes until the public announcement.

Additional liquor law changes included being able to carry one’s drink from one part of an establishment to the next (i.e. from a restaurant bar to the dining area). Family events that run on Special Occasion Licences can also now serve homemade beer, wines, and ciders. Finally, farmers’ markets can now sell alcohol, including taste tests.