After a week of uncertainty stemming from an LCLB directive to Victoria's Belfry theatre (see: LCLB Halts Charity Wine Auction, Others in Jeopardy), the BC government has issued a press release indicating that it will permit charities to fundraise by auctioning off liquor. The quick response on this issue is laudable. However, the press release is confusing because, in terms of immediate application, it only refers to permission for the auction of "gift baskets or similar items that have liquor as one of its components". The issue that was raised by the earlier action against the Belfry and the one that is of central importance to charities is whether or not they may auction privately donated bottles of wine. The auction of privately donated wine for charitable fundraising has been going on in BC for years, and for decades in the case of some charities. In respect of this issue, the press release is unclear. Indeed, there is no mention of privately donated wine in the release at all. Unfortunately the release seems to indicate that charities may not auction off bottles of donated wine until new laws are passed: "Charities that wish to fundraise using only liquor, without other items as a primary component of a basket, will have to wait until new legislation is in place.". It is not clear from the press release what the legal distinction is between the auctioning of a 'gift basket containing liquor' and liquor on its own. I have requested that the LCLB provide clarification on what is intended.
Update: The LCLB has now issued a policy directive on this matter (PDF) which, while clearer than the press release, will likely cause a number of problems for the affected charities: