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BC Reforms Charity Wine Auction Rules

The BC government has announced that new rules regarding charity wine auctions are effective as of today. The new rules will permit the auction of privately donated wine, in smaller quantities without a permit and in larger quantities with a permit. The press release is here: Charities Benefit from New Liquor Auction Rules. These changes should assist with resolving the problems for charities that resulted from an earlier change in policy by the Liquor Control & Licensing Branch (see: BC Charity Wine Auction Update and BC to Permit Charity Wine Auctions, Problems Remain). 

The new rules are brought into effect by Order-in-Council 507, effective November 22nd. Essentially, a new vendor category for alcohol is created under the Act for charitable auctions. A charitable auction which does not exceed certain amounts of alcohol (6 litres of spirits; 18 litres of wine; 51.2 litres of beer/cider/coolers) can proceed without a permit. Auctions for larger than the specified amounts will require a new permit which is available on application from the Licensing Branch for $50.

Auctions can be held by specified non-profit organizations or by charities, but in either case the auction proceeds must be used for charitable purposes (which means that fundraisers for the benefit of some non-profits and for political purposes are not allowed). An organization cannot hold an auction within 30 days of the last auction. There are reporting requirements and various other restrictions including not allowing consumption of auctioned liquor at the event.

The new regulations do not actually refer to private wine donations and it is not entirely clear on first reading how they are permitted for an auction. However, I have confirmed with the LCLB that they are permitted because the organization holding the auction is not a licensee under the Act (rather they are a permit holder, if required). The regulations indicate that the only restriction on sourcing auction liquor is that the product be commercially produced (i.e. not u-brew or u-vin product). The other restrictions related to alcohol sourcing in the Act and Regs do not apply because they apply to licensees. As as result, the holder of an auction can sell any product from any source including private donations so long as the product is commercially produced.

A policy directive is available here: Liquor Auctions and Private Re-sale of Liquor to LDB

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