- Written by Mark Hicken Mark Hicken
- Category: Latest News Latest News
- Published: 07 December 2011 07 December 2011
British Columbia's neighbouring jurisdictions, Alberta and Washington state, have both modernized their liquor and wine regulatory regimes to move away from the post-prohibition "government control" model. This leaves British Columbia seriously out of line with its neighbours in terms of the promotion of economic growth/jobs in the wine industry and within the broader hospitality and tourism sectors. See this article on FreeTheWine.ca for more detail: BC Falls Behind Neighbours On Wine Law Reform and this chart which compares major differences on liquor regulation between BC, AB and WA.
This article from the Economist (Behind the Zion curtain) also shows how out of date the BC system is. The Economist lauds Washington state for moving to a modern regulatory and distribution system while criticizing other "control states" for failing to update their post-prohibition mentality. Particularly, the Economist singles out Utah for its backward system. While Utah's system is worse than BC's in many respects, the Economist identifies an alarmingly high number of problems that are common to both jurisdictions: restricting the sale of alcohol to publicly owned stores (we have private stores as well but the prices are fixed by the government ones), a "restrictive distribution system", enforcement of revenue splits between alcohol and food in restaurants, banning happy hours, imposing restrictions on the number of licenses (BC does that for retailers), and forcing restaurants and bars to pay the same "markup for their booze as consumers do in state-run stores" (BC's system is even worse than Utah's on taxation). To paraphrase the ending of the article, "Eat, drink and be merry - tomorrow you may be in British Columbia".