Victoria’s proposed changes to B.C.’s liquor laws are good news for the Squamish Valley Music Festival (SVMF), says one organizer.
On, Friday (Jan. 31), provincial officials announced their third set of recommendations highlighted in the B.C. Liquor Policy Review. Among the list — which included increased flexibility around licensing and permitting spirit-based liquor sales in stadium and arena stands — was the elimination of a rule mandating beer gardens at entertainment events.
It’s about time, SVMF’s executive producer Paul Runnals said. The current system mandates alcohol be served within a fenced area, leading to binge drinking, he noted. Event-goers often down their beverages as quickly as possible so they don’t miss attractions outside the beer gardens, Runnals said.
B.C.’s rules also break families up as parents split duties between looking after the children and enjoying a cold beer, he noted.
While Runnals said he’s hopeful the new legislation will be in place for this year’s three-day music festival from Aug. 8 to 10, he’s not holding his breath.
“We just don’t know how long [the change] will take,” he said.
The recommendations are a direct reflection of input from British Columbians and festival organizers, John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, said in a statement. Scrapping beer gardens will save festival organizers money, he noted. In addition to taking down the fences, provincial officials are proposing to permit the sale of mixed drinks at such events.
The moves aim to create a better festival experience for live music fans, Music B.C. executive director Bob D’Eith stated.
“We are optimistic that this and other positive changes announced today will help to keep B.C. venues and festivals going strong for years to come,” he said.
Yap’s final report includes 73 recommendations. While government officials haven’t set a date for when the new policies will be adopted, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton told media some recommendations, such as eliminating beer garden fences, could be in place this summer.