B.C. has introduced changes to its outdated liquor laws allowing Victoria’s Belfry Theatre to raise money by auctioning off donated alcohol.
The Belfry was slapped by the province’s liquor control branch last October because the old law did not permit donated bottles of wine to be auctioned off for a theatre fundraiser. The theatre said it would lose as much as $30,000 by being forced to cancel its third annual Crush wine auction.
Changes to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act introduced in the legislature Wednesday will specifically fix the problem highlighted by the Belfry, the government said.
“This issue came to the province's attention because the Belfry was using privately donated wine as part of their auction. Under the existing rules, organizations cannot auction privately donated liquor,” the government said in a statement.
“This rule is outdated, and this legislation provides additional opportunities for charities and non-profits to raise funds. We want to make sure that we modernize regulations that restrict British Columbians unnecessarily.
“The amendments introduced [Wednesday] should fix the Belfry’s issue — provided that they meet the eligibility criteria, i.e., the action is for charitable purposes defined in the act as the relief of poverty, the advancement of education and religion and other purposes beneficial to the community.”
Belfry general manager Ivan Habel celebrated the decision.
“That’s fantastic and we’re thrilled,” Habel said.
“I think that’s going to provide a huge impact on the charitable sector in general and certainly thaw the freeze [the government] had put on.”
Wednesday’s announcement initially caused some confusion about whether the new rules allowed private individuals to donate liquor for auction, or if the alcohol could only come from companies or liquor vendors.
“Charities and other non-profits will be able to receive liquor donations from any source,” the government later clarified.
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