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Agricultural Regulatory Change May Affect BC Wineries

This regulatory update covers a recent policy change that may affect BC wineries. The policy change relates to the permissible uses for alcohol production (i.e. wineries) on property that is contained in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). 

ALR Policy Change. In December 2018, the Agricultural Land Commission posted a new policy that covers the operation of alcohol production facilities (including wineries) that are located on ALR land (\”Policy L-03 – Alcohol Production Facilities in the ALR\”). This applies to many, if not most, BC wineries. The new policy can be read and downloaded here: ALC Policies and Bylaws. The change that wineries may wish to review is the addition of new criteria relating to the allowable \”development area\” for a winery on the particular parcel of ALR land upon which the winery facility is located. The new policy permits a maximum of 5% of the parcel to be used for the \”development area\”. The calculation only includes the parcel on which the production facility is located and does not extend to other land owned or leased by the winery. The definition of development area is very broad and includes all buildings, roads, parking areas and landscaping. For example, if a winery is located on a parcel of ALR land that is 10 acres, it would be permitted a development area of 0.5 acres. Many existing wineries may be off-side with this new rule. While I would not expect the ALC to enforce the policy change in respect of existing facilities, this change may affect new winery projects and any proposed changes to existing wineries. 

BCLDB Manufacturer Info. I also note that the BCLDB has now added a section to their web site that provides information and documentation on some of the policies that they administer that relate to BC manufacturing: Info for BC Liquor Manufacturers. Particularly, there is now publicly available information relating to the categorization of wineries in BC as either \”commercial\” or \”land-based\”. For example, the sales agreements for both types of wineries are now available as well as the land-based winery criteria and direct delivery information (see BC Manufacturers – Sales Agreements). This is a positive step in respect of the availability of this information to industry (although I note that the 2018 BTAP report, which I chaired, recommended that all manufacturer regulation be centralized at the BC LCRB).