The government of British Columbia says it will set up a website in September to solicit public feedback on its plans to overhaul the province's liquor laws. We are no longer accepting suggestions to our community callout, but here are some of the highlights from what readers told us (responses edited for length and clarity):
"All BC Liquor Stores should be open on Sunday. Why they aren't, and they lose all that potential revenue, I have no idea."
– Leslie Weiss, Vancouver
"Ultimately this is about treating adults like adults and not children. These anachronistic laws were designed to make consuming alcohol difficult to limit consumption. But it is 2013, we have harm-reduction strategies employed from other substances, we have a hugely popular craft beer industry, and we generally think that the state should allow people to make decisions for themselves. Liquor licenses should be opened up to allow innovation and choice for people wanting to go out. Because of the restriction on licenses (under the idiotic premise that less bars will make people want to go out and drink less) only well-capitalized corporations can open bars leading to homogenization. People should be allowed to drink in parks. A side effect of densification and condo life is that people often lack the spaces to entertain and congregate privately."
– Tyler Bryant, Vancouver
"Stop treating adults with such prejudice, like we are helpless children. Deregulate alcohol distribution such that all grocery stores and corner stores can sell it, as is done in much of the rest of the world without problems. I think the taxation is outrageous also. Instead of roughly 100 per cent taxation, I would prefer a flat cost per one ounce equivalent of alcohol and then GST/PST on the rest of the drink. That way a high-end bottle of wine (not typically consumed for the express purpose of getting drunk) is not hit with 100 per cent tax like a bottle of malt liquor, but is only dinged the same flat fee as the liquor for the alcoholic content."
– Scott Ross, Victoria
"In theatres (plays, not movies), you should be allowed to bring your drink into the theatre. Also you should be allowed to pre-order drinks for the intermission. This is how its done in England. It's all very civilized. Having a beer on a public beach should not be a crime, public intoxication should be. Two different things. Beer and wine should be available in grocery stores. Wine should be able to be shipped freely from province to province."
– David Buckles, North Vancouver
"Reduce the duty on the first 12 bottles of wine, extrapolate for beer and spirits. This will increase volume and therefore revenue. Allow the consumer to order wine (plus beer or spirits) from any winery (or equivalent) through the liquor store. This will increase selection, which will stimulate growth and competition, which is very badly lacking. The consumer wants selection and competition, the government wants revenues. Everyone wins."
– Gordon Parker, Victoria
"First, B.C. should lower the legal drinking age from 19 to 18 years old, the same age one has to be in order to vote in this province and federally. Second, wine and Canadian beer should be available for purchase at grocery and corner stores; e.g. see Quebec liquor laws. Third, increase the number of licenses available for retail liquor stores: currently there is a moratorium on any new licenses until 2022(!)"
– Kate Morley, Surrey
"Decrease exorbitant prices. Sell all liquors in supermarkets, close the government-run stores. Overpricing is killing the pub business for ideological reasons. The puritans should not hold the power.
What's wrong with bringing wine to a picnic on the beach? We are very prehistoric in government attitudes towards alcohol."
– D. Anderson, Victoria
"I would modernize liquor laws to allow the sale of beer and wine in supermarkets, just as is done in ... most of the Western world. This notion that we are not mature or capable enough to handle liquor sales in supermarkets is just plain dumb. Importantly, prices should not be higher than in BC Liquor Stores, but they should compete fairly. In fact, who the heck needs BC Liquor Stores? And by the way, is Quebec a cesspool of lawless drinking because you can buy beer at the corner store?"
– David Fine, Vancouver
"Emulate Alberta's system. All booze to go through one or two warehouses and tax it as it is shipped from there. Encourage price competition. Let the private sector take over all wholesale and retail sales. Get the government as much as possible out of the business. This includes scrapping most of the ridiculous and unnecessary regulation."
– Dan Hunter, Vancouver
"Allow more brands of liquors to reach the public. For example, there is not one brand of Peruvian pisco available in B.C."
– Ruy Noya, Vancouver
"I believe that in a modern society, liquor should be much more convenient to purchase. In the majority of the world where liquor is sold it is readily available in supermarkets, grocery stores and even gas stations. This makes it easier to obtain, at the same time as your weekly grocery shop for instance. I believe responsible drinkers would appreciate this and liquor sales could very well increase as a result. If liquor was more readily available and the cost less 'controlled' then businesses would have more flexibility in what they charge customers. Thus the potential cost to the consumer could be reduced in light of a more competitive sales environment."
– Steven Templeman, Castlegar
"My first act would be to expand the number of government-run BC Liquor Stores and begin the process of shutting down the private beer, wine and liquor outlets. It is my contention that the private industry is unnecessary, costly and does much harm through lax enforcement of rules they are supposed to follow. Private outlets are universally more expensive to consumers and brutal on workers who traditionally earn minimum wage, whereas the government stores pay good wages and benefits, price the products reasonably and still provide a strong financial return to the province and its taxpayers."
– Allan McRae, Kamloops
"Privatize the importation and sale of liquor and allow sale in grocery stores ... taking the U.S. as a model. Replace compulsory government markup with a reasonable provincial tax, say five per cent at wholesale level. Government stores can still stay and compete with private enterprise. With government resources there's no reason why they can't be run as a profitable Crown corporation in the free market."
– Steffan Ileman, Vancouver
"Make liquor available in grocery stores and all other outlets where alcohol can be sold. Have incentive to buy B.C.-made products like wine with lower taxes. Lower the government taxes on alcohol to less than 40 per cent."
– Sam Boroditsky, Richmond
"Age (of majority) should be reduced to 18. Pubs should allow minors to enter with an adult. Grocery stores should be able to sell beer and wine."
– John Tucker, Victoria