The provincial government announced changes to liquor laws late last week — a relaxing of regulations that govern how and where spirits can be sold at public festivals and sporting events.
The rules around fencing for beer gardens are changing for the what the government calls “family-friendly festivals”. This will allow people to carry a beverage around festival grounds rather than remaining in a fenced beer garden area. While special occasion licenses still need to be applied for, those licenses can also add the sale of mixed spirits to beer and wine sales. And at sporting events, there will no longer be designated areas in arenas or stadiums for beer sales. In addition, mixed spirits can be sold throughout the arena rather than just to those in private boxes and premium seats.
During the public input phase prior to these changes becoming law, Kimberley Chamber Manager Mike Guarnery said that while the changes had potential for JulyFest, the bocce area would likely remain fenced, simply for security reasons. But there are many other opportunities with the new regulations. He said that the JulyFest committee would be meeting to discuss the changes on May 5. Of particular interest is the ability to sell mixed spirits, creating the potential for something like a “Caesar Sunday” at the bocce pits. There is definite interest in exploring whether something like that would be allowed.
“To me, how we plan Oktoberfest will offer some interesting possibilities,” Guarnery said. “The Chamber looks forward to working with our local community groups and businesses to make this updated policy relevant to upcoming events.”
The government says safety is still a top priority, although Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald says he sees a bit of a disconnect between trying to eliminate drinking and driving while at the same time making alcohol more freely used in public settings.