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Premier announces liquor policy changes

Volcanic Hills Estate Winery proprietor and president Bobby Gidda gives Premier Christy Clark a tour of the winery prior to a provincial announcement regarding provincial liquor policy changes Wednesday morning. - Wade Paterson/Capital News
Volcanic Hills Estate Winery proprietor and president Bobby Gidda gives Premier Christy Clark a tour of the winery prior to a provincial announcement regarding provincial liquor policy changes Wednesday morning.
— image credit: Wade Paterson/Capital News

Premier Christy Clark announced the provincial government's support of several liquor policy recommendations at a stop in West Kelowna Wednesday morning; however, liquor sales in grocery stores was not one of them.

Clark—who toured Volcanic Hills Estate Winery before speaking to visitors and the media—said the public has shown a desire for more convenience, but said she has concerns about public safety.

"It's a primary concern of mine in making sure we deliver on the convenience people want, protect health and safety, but also promote B.C. products," said Clark, who added more announcements regarding liquor policy reform are likely to come in the future.

Following parliamentary secretary for liquor policy reform John Yap's B.C. Liquor Policy Review, which engaged 80,000 residents online as well as others who attended town hall meetings throughout the province, Clark indicated support of several of the 70 recommended policy changes Wednesday.

"We all know our liquor regulations are antiquated. They're out of date, and it's been that way for a very long time," said Clark.

Clark first announced manufacturers will be able to sample and sell their made-in-B.C. liquor at venues such as farmers' markets, festivals and off-site tasting rooms.

"This is a win for consumers; it's a win for local farmers' markets," said Clark.

Manufacturers will also be allowed to expand their on-site tasting venues.

"That means people visiting the winery will be able to enjoy a bottle of wine in the vineyard picnic area," said Clark.

"Imagine being able to walk down to the edge of the lake, enjoy your bottle of wine with a picnic here in the beautiful Okanagan and how much that will enhance people's experience."

Other changes include: Enhanced marketing, exploration of a new quality assurance program—similar to the VQA program—for distillers and craft brewers and a more streamlined application process for facilities such as ski hills and golf courses to temporarily extend their liquor licenced area to another part of the property.

"We need to, as a government, respond to the people of the province who say they do want change."

The premier said some of the changes could be introduced  as early as spring 2014.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

Twitter: @PatersonWade

 

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