Canadian Musician


British Columbia Revises Liquor Permit Process to Make it Easier for Festivals & Concerts

October 26th, 2016
(L – R) Nick Blasko of Amelia Artists, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy John Yap, the Honourable Minister Coralee Oakes, Music Canada’s President and CEO Graham Henderson, BRANDLIVE’s Catherine Runnals.

(L – R) Nick Blasko of Amelia Artists, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy John Yap, Minister Coralee Oakes, Music Canada’s Graham Henderson, BRANDLIVE’s Catherine Runnals.

In an effort to cut red tape and make business easier for music festivals, concerts, and other cultural events, British Columbia has announced a change to the province’s liquor licencing permit regulations.

Previously, only non-profit organizations could apply for a Special Occasion Licence (now Special Event Permit) and were responsible for liquor service at the event, even when it was organized by a third party. This change allows businesses to apply for a Special Event Permit and accept liability for liquor service at the event, therefore removing the requirement for charities to be involved in the permitting process.

Permit holders can now also enter into exclusive agreements with liquor manufacturers to sell specific brands at charitable events. This change responds to feedback the province received from industry through the Liquor Policy Review consultation and the BC’s public engagement on Red Tape Reduction, and means that event promoters can seek advantageous partnerships with breweries, wineries, and distilleries in order to raise money for charity.

The provincial government says these actions build on the province’s ongoing work to support the growth for cultural industries, including the February 2016 announcement of a $15-million grant to establish the BC Music Fund that will encourage more activity in B.C.’s music sector, create and retain jobs, and bolster music tourism in British Columbia.

“These changes are the result of consultations with industry and an important step forward in our continued work to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws by cutting red tape for businesses. We expect these changes will increase the number of special events held throughout B.C. and strengthen patronage of the arts in our communities,” says Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch.

Music Canada President Graham Henderson adds, “Today’s announcement is one more important step to building a sustainable music industry for the benefit of our artists, the economy, and live music event attendees, and for that we thank the B.C. government. Reducing red tape for live music performances is an important addition to the BC Music Strategy and demonstrates the government’s strong support of our growing industry sector. B.C. has a deep musical heritage and is home to some of the finest production facilities, artists, and labels in the world. We’re very happy to see the Province make changes that can better position B.C. to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Lastly, BC Music Fund advirsory committee member Nick Blasko, adds, “On behalf of B.C.’s music festival organizers, we truly appreciate the ministry’s continued focus on red tape reduction. Their effort towards a licensing strategy that will help to create more events in our province, is good for B.C. artists and many of our provinces music companies. We look forward to seeing these changes implemented.”


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