B.C. to review wholesale-liquor distribution system

Published December 16, 2018

On Dec. 11, the government of British Columbia announced that it will commission an independent review of wholesale liquor distribution in the province to address industry concerns and ensure recent system changes are meeting the needs of wholesale customers.

“Government will engage an outside consultant to conduct the review, which will begin in the new year, once the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) has substantially transitioned to the new Delta distribution centre,” the B.C. government stated in a release. “The review will examine current practices, seek input from wholesale customers and recommend any improvements to services that are needed.” (Click here to read the full press release.)

The review is being conducted as a result of a report released in April by liquor policy advisor Mark Hicken, which included 23 recommendations to improve business interactions between the provincial government and B.C.’s liquor industry.

One of the recommendations was that restaurants should be able to buy alcohol at a wholesale price as well as from private stores. Restaurants currently have to pay the full retail price that the public pays, but unlike the public, restaurant operators must buy alcoholic beverages from the B.C. government’s stores, and not private retailers.

Attorney General David Eby told Business in Vancouver in July that he may make the change to allow restaurant owners to pay a slight premium of about 5 per cent on top of the wholesale price for alcoholic beverages that government charges retailers. (Click here to read more on this from Business in Vancouver).

Restaurants Canada applauds this first step toward addressing the recommendations of the Hicken report, which if implemented would be a significant victory for licensed restaurants in British Columbia.

Click here to read about advocacy work that Restaurants Canada has been leading related to the Hicken report.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada, at mark@restaurantscanada.org or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 6500.

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