The provincial government says it is going to review an “outdated” liquor policy that prevents nonprofits from giving donated wine as prizes.
Many nonprofits have been auctioning wine for years at fund raisers, but when the Belfry Theatre in Victoria applied for a special-occasion license to run the charity event B.C.’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch suddenly sent a letter telling them it wasn’t allowed.
The theatre expected the change in policy will cost it $30,000 in lost donations, but the government’s move has many organizations across the province wondering how this may affect their own fund raisers.
Under the regulations any such wine must be purchased at full price from BC Liquor stores and donations from wineries are not allowed; although this rule does not appear to have been consistently applied in recent times.
Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman, under whose authority the Liquor Distribution Branch falls, has promised his Ministry will try to rectify the matter quickly. He says, “From time to time, we find outdated liquor policies that may have been relevant at a particular time in history, but don’t work today. Our goal is to get rid of these outdated liquor laws that unnecessarily restrict British Columbians and to regulate alcohol responsibly in the process.”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 Minister did clarify one point, which is that the prohibition only applies to fund raisers where the wine is the sole prize or reward. For fund raisers that award liquor in conjunction with other items like food in a basket, there shouldn’t be a problem.
Hopefully, Minister Coleman’s interpretation is the same one that ministry employees and inspectors are working under.