Proposed liquor policy could offer opportunities for Kimberley ‘fests

JulyFest and more could see changes if government follows through on recommendations

Late last week, the provincial government announced changes to liquor policy that could have quite an impact on Kimberley events. JulyFest especially, will see opportunities from the changes, says Chamber of Commerce Manager Mike Guarnery.

The recommendations will streamline the application process for special occasion licences (SOLs) and refresh liquor policies around beer garden fencing, opening up new opportunities for B.C.’s multitude of festivals, special events and non-profit organizations. Sports and entertainment venues, as well as the hotel industry, will also see changes.

In all, the government has announced full support for all 73 recommendations in the Liquor Policy Review.

Those include allowing the sale of mixed-spirit drinks at public SOL events and enabling hosts to serve UBrew/UVin at events, such as weddings. Stadiums and arenas throughout the province will have more flexibility around licensing, and be permitted spirit-based liquor sales in the stands.

Guarnery met with Mr. Yap and the consultants on policy review last October when the team made a stop in Cranbrook.

“It was an interview to find out first-hand from Chamber of Commerce, event holders, and businesses that serve or sell beer, wine and spirits, what are hindrances in the current procedures or what can be done at the Provincial level to provide realistic support and effective change,” he said.

The changes do offer some new opportunities for JulyFest, Guarnery said, such as the ability to serve mixed drinks.

“It very well could change some of the reflection of Julyfest, for example, “Caesar Sunday at the Bocce Pits.”

However, the fencing around the bocce pits will continue, as he says that is more an admittance issue than a liquor issue.

The first organizing meeting for JulyFest 2014 is tonight and Guarnery says the new liquor policy will definitely be under discussion.

“This will be topic as it may impact our logistics. Julyfest is one entity, but changes that the B.C. Liquor Policy Review are implementing will have a broad-sweeping effect on many of our membership,” Guarnery said.

“I believe other not-for-profit agencies and societies within Kimberley will also be looking at these changes and how it will affect their events, too.  For instance, I see a lot of changes of how Oktoberfest will be conducted should the organizational team decide to operate without the beer garden requirement.”

The full report on the recommendations can be found here http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/