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Time to Reform Tied House Laws?

Good article in today\’s Times-Colonist on the need to reform B.C. liquor laws, specifically the \”tied house\” restrictions which impose strict limits on business when a person owns both an interest in a liquor manufacturer (such as a winery or brewery) and a retail establishment (such as a restaurant, bar or store). These antiquated laws (which date from post-prohibition times) prevent the owner of Lighthouse Brewing in Victoria from selling his own beer in his own bar, the Podium Sports Grill. They also prevent the Bishop family from selling their own wine (made at Carbrea winery on Hornby Island) at their restaurant at Seabreeze Lodge.

As the article points out, the original purpose of these laws was to prevent vertical control of the liquor industry such that major players would not limit choice at the retail level. However, times have changed … and there are certainly better ways to address these concerns, even if they are still valid.

Similar laws were the subject of intense criticism in Washington state, which recently reformed them so as to solve issues like the ones noted above. British Columbia could also reform its laws … it just takes the political will to do so.

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