Afternoon drink specials could be in B.C.’s future if the newly formed Campaign for Culture has its way.
The Vancouver-based organization, formed earlier this month, wants to bring happy hours to the province. The fledgling group has eight members, but is aiming at starting a petition in the fall. For now, they’re focusing on a social media campaign and getting interested members to contact provincial and municipal politicians.
“We’re way behind,” said co-founder and executive director Elin Tayyar. “B.C. is the last remaining province in Canada to ban happy hours.”
Tayyar said Vancouverites who go home for an after-work brew should be out supporting businesses, and the government shouldn’t stand in their way.
While weekly drink specials are offered in many Vancouver bars, price changes during the day are a no-go.
Kyle Polanski, who manages The Cove Neighbourhood Pub in Kitsilano and is originally from Winnipeg, was surprised to find himself in a province without mid-afternoon drink specials. “B.C. laws seem pretty arcane,” he said.
Polanski said the Cove likely wouldn’t likely gain business as a result of a lifted ban since all pubs would stand to profit from the change, but he said it would be a great new marketing strategy.
But after 13 years in B.C., he’s impressed with recent changes including the corkage laws and the Rio Theatre’s ability to serve liquor during all ages film screenings.
Tayyar wasn’t as optimistic.
“There are a lot of issues, a lot of inefficiencies and problems with current regulations. A few are getting changed but they are very piecemeal changes,” Tayyar said. The Rio Theatre’s liquor licence, for example, only holds for that establishment. No other theatres in Vancouver currently serve alcohol.
Tayyar is no stranger to the beer business. As a student politician at UBC, he was involved in running two bars and helped plan an on-campus micro-brewery. The hurdles exist both on and off university ground, he said.
But at least one group wants to keep B.C.’s liquor regulations in place.
Canada’s Temperance Foundation was born out of reaction to the Stanley Cup riots and aims to promote drug abstinence and liquor restraint. The Victoria-based group formed this past July and will be starting educational presentations in churches, schools and community organizations on Vancouver Island in September. The presentations will move to the Lower Mainland if they’re successful.
CEO Miles Craig said he hopes happy hours won’t grace the province’s pubs any time soon. “This is a concern. Anytime we pass laws that make it more accessible, alcohol consumption goes up.”
Tayyar argued that B.C. alcohol prices are some of the highest in the country and happy hours wouldn’t be able to breach the established price minimum. The group ultimately wants the government to conduct a comprehensive review of B.C. liquor laws—happy hours, he said, are just the start.