The provincial government has done the right thing by acting quickly to fix liquor regulations that crushed the Belfry Theatre's annual wine auction and threatened similar fundraisers.
Just a week ago, the theatre got word from the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch that the third instalment of its popular Crush event would not get a special-occasion licence because the wine had been donated by private individuals. The rules say that only manufacturers or agents can donate liquor for such events.
In a news release Friday, Rich Coleman, minister responsible for liquor, said: "From time to time, we find outdated liquor policies that may have been relevant at a particular time in history but don't work today. Our goal is to get rid of these outdated liquor laws that unnecessarily restrict British Columbians and to regulate alcohol responsibly in the process."
The government "found" the outdated policy because the Belfry went public with its concerns. After suffering cuts in provincial grants for years, arts groups are desperate to find sources of money, and the loss of wine auctions was one more blow.
It's unfortunate that the Belfry had to take it on the chin and lose $30,000 on behalf of non-profit groups throughout the province. Thanks to the theatre's raising of the alarm, Coleman says the government will allow auctions of wine as part of gift baskets, and will later amend the legislation to permit wine-only auctions.
Non-profit groups can breathe a sigh of relief that the province has taken what Coleman's news release calls a " 'common sense' approach" to amending this outdated legislation.
© Copyright 2013