Founded in 2012, Campaign for Culture is an independent organization dedicated to enhancing the social and cultural fabric of British Columbia. We advocate for modern, sensible liquor policy because it supports consumers, businesses, and cultural groups in our province. By bringing our province into the 21st Century, we can help make British Columbia a more desirable destination for residents and tourists alike. Our mission is focused on three important ideas:
1 - remove limitations on innovation and opportunity
2 - enhance the social and cultural vibrancy of our province
3 - promote and strengthen local industry
Since our foundation, we have received overwhelming public support because British Columbians understand the importance of innovation, culture, and local industry. Together, we successfully advocated for a Comprehensive Liquor Policy Review, completed in January 2014, that introduced sensible recommendations to British Columbia.
See our specific asks below.
1. Allow Happy Hours
British Columbia was the only province in Canada not to allow differential liquor pricing, or "happy hours", and was one of the few jurisdictions in the developed world without it. Studies have shown that jurisdictions with moderated happy hours are not any worse off. Lifting the ban on happy hours would:
1) Enhance the social fabric of BC by helping foster an "after work" culture similar to those in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary
2) Increase autonomy for businesses by removing unnecessarily restrictive policies
3) Modernize an archaic policy and catch up to the rest of Canada
3. Overhaul Special Occasion Licensing
Any British Columbian wanting to hold an event where alcohol is involved needs to obtain a Special Occasion License from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB). We believe that an overhaul of the SOL system can increase the number of robust events and festivals in our province, making BC a more vibrant place for residents, businesses, and tourists. The Campaign for Culture has specific recommendations for changes to the SOL process:
1) Eliminate the exemption process, which costs $100 and adds weeks to the time required to get an SOL
2) Hold indoor and outdoor events to the same standards; eliminate “beer gardens” and the caging-off of adults who choose to enjoy a drink responsibly at outdoor events
3) Give SOL events the same right as licensed establishments; allow spirits to be served at events, and give event organizers more freedom with pricing liquor
2. Allow the sale of local craft liquor at Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets are gatherings where locals have the opportunity to meet and purchase products directly from local food and beverage producers. Allowing the sale of craft liquor products at Farmers Markets, as done in a number of other jurisdictions, will enable British Columbians to enjoy the best products from their community.
The sale of local wine, beer, and spirits ensures BCʼs production of liquor to thrive and compete, both nationally internationally. This change to liquor policy will not only help our businesses, but also strengthen the cultural fabric of our province.
4. Allow creative establishments and flexible licensing
BC’s binary licensing structure for establishments is highly problematic and is in need of major changes. First, it restricts the nature of licensed establishments to 1) bars and nightclubs, and 2) restaurants. This greatly limits the creativity that often comes with social venues. Second, many cultural venues, such as art galleries, are forced to obtain Special Occasion Licenses for regular events, which is inefficient and costly. We urge the establishment of a third class of licenses, which would allow establishments that don’t fit the current dual framework to operate.
While the Province's 73 recommendations have been a step in the right direction, more can be done to improve the cultural vibrancy of British Columbia. Many of the changes proposed by the Province have yet to be implemented, while many other issues have no received critical attention.
Public support helped bring in Happy Hours, Craft Liquor at Farmers markets, Special Occasion License Reform, and Creative Licensing. Together with the Comprehensive Review, we were able to bring a much needed change to our province. By focusing on sensible and responsible changes, we can continue to improve British Columbia for the better.
See the Final Report and recommendations here.