Experience of EXP Bar is another example of nanny state liquor laws gone wrong
(Update: CKNW has reported that Jay Chambers has resigned as GM of Liquor Distribution Branch)
Canadians, especially British Columbians, are hearing a lot of media reports about liquor laws. People are using internet advocacy to goad politicians into changing laws, reducing taxes, and lessening the regulatory burden on business when it comes to where and when people are having a glass of wine or pint of beer.
The most vocal campaign across the country is the successful #FreeMyGrapes movement to end inter-provincial prohibition. Okanagan-Similkameen MP Dan Albas managed to get a unanimous vote for Bill C311 to end restrictions on the movement of wine over provincial borders. The Bill has now been approved for a Senate vote and will likely become law in a matter of weeks. While politicians rose to the challenge on this matter (thanks in large part due to the Internet making the issue well understood across the country) the private and government-controlled liquor establishment are resistant to change.
In BC we've seen several battles, such as the Rio Theatre getting changes to rules regarding the sale of alcohol in movie theatres. A Downtown Eastside entertainment venue, the Rickshaw, got the first liquor primary license in that community in twenty years after some pressure on authorities.
Now a former videogame industry developer wants to open a new establishment – EXP Bar – where you and your friends can have a drink and game together. Not surprisingly, the Liquor Control Licensing Branch (LCLB) doesn't like the idea. Restaurant proprietor Brian Vidovic has begun a petition to pressure Minister Rich Coleman and the LCLB authorities to change their mind, and he's getting a lot of attention this week for it. Here's Brian's video explaining his campaign:
Vancouver has a dynamic and vital videogame development industry. Yet somehow we can't see fit to celebrate and support it by allowing people to enjoy games in a venue where adults can have a drink.
The public seem to be telling our liquor licensing authorities that their stranglehold must end. People are tired of the nanny state around booze in our province, and they're making themselves heard. If you support our videogame development industry, then perhaps you should support a venue like EXP Bar and their campaign to get a license which allows you to have a bite, have a drink, and play a videogame.
UPDATE — City Caucus was contacted by a Ministry spokesperson with the following clarification of EXP's license application:
- The applicant has been told he can have drinks alongside video game consoles, however has to apply for a liquor primary licence in order to do so.
- He is currently applying for a food primary license. With that type of licence, the primary focus must at all times be on food. With the addition of the gaming consoles in the applicant’s proposal, the primary focus is not food.
- This restriction is not in place for liquor-primary licences – and that is the appropriate type of licence for what he is proposing.
- post by Mike