Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


April 10, 2014

Further debate on Bill 15 the Liquor Control and Licensing Amendment Act

S. Simpson: The bill, if we get down to subsection 20(10): "A monetary penalty imposed under this section must be paid as follows: (a) within 30 days after the date on which the general manager gives written notice of the amount of monetary penalty or…within any longer period specified by the general manager in that notice; (b) within 30 days after the date on which a licensee signs a waiver under subsection (8)."

Is there any opportunity there for the licensee — if it's a significant penalty, like $50,000 or something — to have some discussion about extending that period of time? Is that what's meant by the "longer period" by the general manager in that notice? Would that be a matter for them, if they came and said: "I'm happy, and I'm going to pay the penalty, but I need 60 days and not 30 days, if we can do that"? Is that what that's there to allow to occur, or why the ability to change the time?

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S. Simpson: If we look down in the case…. When we go down and look at section 20.03: "For the purposes of any hearing, the general manager may, by summons, require a person (a) to attend as a witness, at a place and time mentioned in the summons…" etc. — a time reasonable due to the date of the summons — "(b) to bring and produce for the general manager all records or other things in the person's possession or control that are relevant to the subject…of the hearing."

The general manager, then, has the authority to subpoena documents and people to a hearing?

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S. Simpson: To enforce this — and I'm just wanting to clarify what (3)…. I think I know what it means, but to clarify.

Should somebody decline to respond to such a summons by the general manager, then the remedy for the general manager is to take the matter to the Supreme Court and ask for a contempt ruling? That would constitute a contempt of the court if they didn't comply. Or they'd go to the court, and the court would direct the individual to adhere to the summons, and then, of course, be in contempt of the Supreme Court if they didn't adhere to the court ruling. Is that how that would all work?

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S. Simpson: This is the first section, I think, here, section 20.04, that talks about:

"Without limiting section 20, if a municipally, regionally, provincially or federally granted licence, permit, registration or certificate, or a licence, permit, registration or certificate granted by a treaty first nation or the Nisga'a Nation, that a licensee is required to hold in order to operate the licensed establishment is suspended or cancelled or expires without being renewed, the general manager may, on written notice to the licensee, (a) suspend the…licence under this Act until the other licence, permit, registration or certificate is reinstated…or (b) cancel the licensee's licence."

Could the minister explain a little bit — I think I understand it, but maybe the minister can bring some clarity — just how that suspension works, on loss of other authority?

Does this say, then, if there's some kind of ruling or decision by a municipal or regional or other level of government or by a treaty First Nation — that they have some kind of ruling — then the general manager can kind of acknowledge that decision by another authority and grant a suspension based on what the other authority has done? Is that what that says?

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S. Simpson: One last question under section 20. Again, just to confirm that the only form of appeal here, as we've talked about before, is judicial review. There are no other forms of appeal for a licensee other than judicial review?

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S. Simpson: Section 16 talks about relocation related to licences, 21.1. We know that the discussion is ongoing about the removal of the five-kilometre rule, which I think is a regulation, but the minister can confirm that. Would this, essentially, be a piece of what it is to end the five-kilometre rule, and then say that the general manager just has to assent to this and that there aren't other limits on the relocation, other than the assent of the general manager? But there aren't restrictions like the current 5K rule?

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S. Simpson: Is this the section that would, and presuming again…? It says "in accordance with the regulations." I'm assuming for specifics like the five-kilometre rule, that those are probably regulatory changes, although the minister could confirm that.

Is this the section that would enable what's been reported as the plan to allow licences to be sold and relocated past the five-kilometre current rule? Is this what will allow that to occur?

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S. Simpson: I appreciate that the general manager could do that. Just so I understand — because the general manager, obviously, can look at other factors — the current limit is, I believe: can't go farther than five kilometres from where the licence is currently located. Apparently that is to change, but that is the law today. And you can't locate within one kilometre of an existing store.

Other than those two regulations, and I'm assuming they're regulations, are there any other limits that are in force, other than those things that the general manager, in the previous sections around the licensee or transferee, will make judgments about — whether these are people you want to have a licence, based on who they are and on meeting certain standards?

On the physical location issue, are there any other issues that affect that, other than the current five-kilometre rule, which we know is proposed to change, and the one kilometre from an existing store?

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S. Simpson: So17 talks about: "If, at an event site, the conduct of persons attending the event or of the authorization holder's employees is of a riotous, violent, drunken or disorderly nature, or the safety of one or more persons at the event site is threatened, the general manager may, without a hearing, suspend or cancel the authorization and order the immediate removal of patrons." Would this be a case where, for example, the police would have the authority of the general manager? Would they have delegated authority to make that kind of decision, to do those things as they relate…? I mean, the police can always shut things down for other reasons. But would they have the authority, or how would that authority be delegated?

This would be probably a pretty immediate event, and nobody's going to call the general manager up at midnight and say: "Hey, do you want to deal with this?" How does that happen?

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S. Simpson: In this case, though…. I'm just trying to understand here. Even though it may not be a change, there are minor changes, and as we all know, people revisit these things when that happens. Is that a circumstance, though, then, where there is already delegated authority that has been given? Just so I'm understanding this. I know we talked about delegated authority earlier in this committee hearing, but I'm just trying to understand, and this is a case, an instance, where it would, presumably, apply.

So that delegated authority already exists with people like law enforcement under the rules of the general manager. They kind of give that authority, and then they get to exercise that as they see necessary?

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S. Simpson: Section 21 brings in a component around public education material. Could the minister talk a little bit about the intent of this section and the thinking about public education?

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S. Simpson: Could the minister talk about what kind of educational materials are contemplated in this section?

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S. Simpson: The minister spoke earlier about part of the motivation for this section was the work and the review that was done by the parliamentary secretary and the feedback that he received about the need for a public education component in that. I'm assuming that as the minister moves forward and as the ministry moves forward to develop this and talks to other people, they start from a place of what was learned by the parliamentary secretary and his work in the creation of the review.

Could the minister talk a little bit about the kinds of things that the parliamentary secretary heard in the review that motivated and created what I think is a good section? I support this section. What kind of created the motivation? What were the kinds of ideas or things that were talked about with the parliamentary secretary that encouraged the minister to incorporate this into the legislation, to get a sense of what people were telling the parliamentary secretary about the best way to approach education and the importance of it?

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S. Simpson: We know that currently in licensed facilities there's a fair amount of information and awareness provided, particularly around drinking and driving. That's obviously a very large one for licensed establishments, to do everything they can do to ensure that people aren't drinking and driving. We've been, I think, reasonably successful in the province at delivering that message and at having people receive it.

It's not perfect. It never will be. But I think there's been a reasonable amount of success in that area around that piece and around the public safety related to that.

I'm trying to get a sense now…. I think everybody accepts that and understands that that's valuable and important, and we can even do more of that. I don't think anybody would argue with that.

Could the minister give me an idea…? She talked about some of the other pieces around overconsumption and that. Just generally, maybe, give me a bit of a sense of what other areas she would be looking at for that public education over and above, obviously, drinking-driving.

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S. Simpson: One of the reasons that I'm interested in pursuing this a little bit is because we do know…. I have been approached by groups, and I'm sure the minister has too, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, some of the addiction organizations and academics and that, who have raised some concern about the overall direction of the review in terms of opening up more access to liquor and what the implications of that might be.

I'm not opposed to those recommendations. But a key counterbalance for that, obviously, is the public education piece. This piece will counterbalance what will be some increased access — how you weigh that to make sure that people are, hopefully, getting an opportunity to increase their awareness about the downsides of alcohol and about needing to be careful about that, whether it's for themselves or for their loved ones. They may see people who are maybe overindulging and the potential negative impacts of that.

Has the minister had discussions in the preparation of this legislation with groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and some of the addiction experts around this piece? Have they given her advice on how to approach this?

Could the minister maybe illuminate us a little bit about the kinds of advice that she was getting from those organizations — because they've talked to me; I'm sure they've talked to her — and how she thinks she can respond to those concerns they raise in a way so that they at least will be comfortable that efforts are being made on the awareness side to address some of their concerns?

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S. Simpson: Can the minister tell us what the timeline is for the completion of that work?

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S. Simpson: Could the minister elaborate on this section a little bit — what it means and what its purpose is?

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S. Simpson: With this, it says the general manager can "impose as a condition of the authorization the restrictions and limitations that the general manager considers necessary on any type or form of entertainment performed at the event site." What's the thinking here about limiting entertainment, and what's the advice that the minister has on how the type of entertainment affects the issues around liquor and potential abuse of liquor that might cause a concern for the general manager?

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S. Simpson: I asked the question about entertainment, because it's very specific here. It doesn't necessarily talk about other conditions so much, but it talks very specifically about any type or form of entertainment performed at the event site. I'm presuming, since the language is that specific about entertainment, that there was some consideration about that, whether it was in the previous write or in this writing of it.

Obviously, if it was there before, it was deemed to be the right thing to do, and the minister has presumably deemed it to continue to be the right thing to do to leave it in place. I'm trying to determine, on the question of entertainment, why that's specifically identified in the clause — there are a whole lot of other things that could be identified — and what the implication of entertainment is to the abuse of alcohol and what the thinking is around that.

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S. Simpson: Essentially, what I see.... In section 23 it talks about how the manufacturer — could be, I guess, a craft brewery or one of the wineries or the new craft distilleries — has the ability to "(a) sell, serve and offer samples of its products, and (b) sell and serve other liquor, subject to and in accordance with the regulations." Could the minister tell us what's different about 53 versus what the current law is?

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S. Simpson: I think this falls under this section, but I'm sure the minister will let me know. For example, I have a number of new craft breweries in my constituency, some very successful ones. I now have a new…. I think one, maybe two craft distilleries have opened that have tasting rooms. The Odd Society makes a vodka and a couple of other things. They've just won some awards, and I'm really pleased about that.

Of course, Parallel 49 and Storm and Coal Harbour are some very successful new craft breweries that have been in play for the last couple of years. They have tasting rooms attached to their operations, generally. I know they've been looking and they've been getting some increased latitude about what they can do in those tasting rooms.

Can the minister tell us: is the expectation, then, that they'll have the increased opportunity here to have people come in, sit down at a craft brewery and have a couple of beers there, of the product? It may be the product that's being produced there — or now with this legislation to have a product that's not produced there. So do they get to function almost like a licensed establishment? Is that what happens here?

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S. Simpson: I think I'm going to let this section go.

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S. Simpson: Section 24, again, deals with the question of regulation. Could the minister tell us a little bit about what the intention here is around the change to section 58(3), which is repealed and substituted? Could the minister tell us what that change essentially does?

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S. Simpson: Section 26 deals with retention of documents and reports and books and things — inspection of books and that. It's a fairly significant section. Could the minister tell us what changes are made here, as compared to what the current legislation says?

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S. Simpson: So 27 allows for time limits for judicial review. That essentially says that any application for review needs to be commenced within 30 days of the date the general manager gives written notice of the decision. I'm not certain. Maybe the Attorney General may know this. She's the Attorney General.

Interjection.

S. Simpson: Well, that's what Attorneys General are supposed to know.

Is the 30 days a pretty typical period of time, or is it often a longer period of time?

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S. Simpson: I'm thinking that these kids up here…. They may be other kids. I just want to welcome them. I'm going to take a second here to welcome 21 grade 5s from Saint Francis of Assisi School who are here and from my constituency. I met them outside, and they're very excited and inquisitive about what's going on here. I just want to make sure that everybody makes these kids from Francis of Assisi very welcome here.

S. Simpson: Thank you for that break, hon. Chair.

I'm going to…. Now I've distracted myself. One question, then, in regard to that. The 30 days assumes, then, that…. Essentially, a ruling is made by the general manager. Typically, we know what the monetary penalties are. Those are all 30 days to pay that. So the decision here is that's the time frame on dealing with a ruling, so that's the time frame for a judicial review. Essentially, that's what we're doing here?

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S. Simpson: Can the minister tell us what the effect of repealing that section is? I believe it's 76(1)

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S. Simpson: Section 31 deals with section 84 of the current act, which essentially is the power to make regulations, which seems to be probably the most important section of this bill when you get right down to it.

I'm going to ask the minister to walk us through a little bit of this section, because it's fairly specific in terms of talking about what kinds of regulatory changes can and can't be made under this. Could the minister walk us through what this changes in terms of the regulation-making powers that are provided by Bill 15?

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S. Simpson: Maybe we'll walk through this a little bit, because this is a pretty substantive piece. I'm going to try not to bounce around too much, but we'll see how I do.

Under section (c), "respecting training programs referred to in section 13, with power," it talks about circumstances to exempt persons or classes of persons from the requirement to complete training programs. What's the thinking of this legislation around being able to exempt, and who are we talking about?

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S. Simpson: Maybe the minister could tell us: who's exempted now?

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S. Simpson: As you look at the regulatory changes — a pretty significant piece of work that the government has to do, to look at the regulatory changes — could the minister tell us: what's the expectation around how that would change?

For example, with this section around this — and I'm anticipating that this is mostly Serving It Right and related matters like that in what's seen in this section in terms of the training — how does the minister anticipate going about consulting or talking to the industry about changes that will happen in this section that will have a direct impact on licensees?

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S. Simpson: I'm going to move to (d). I guess it's changed. It's (l.1), (r.1), (t.1). These are situations…. This talks about enforcement and cancellation; (t.1) says "setting out circumstances in which the general manager must cancel a licence." Is that currently the practice? If so, under what circumstances must a licence be cancelled? Are there any changes that the minister is contemplating that she's aware of at this point?

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S. Simpson: Section (e) talks about publishing information respecting licensees in relation to actions taken against them, convictions, etc.

Looking at the practice…. I know that if you shut down an operation now, you go and post on the door and say that the place has been suspended, for a week or 20 days or whatever the suspension might be when they lock the doors on something — the same as, I know, that if a grocery store gets caught selling cigarettes to kids, that piece, they lose their right to sell cigarettes. They've got to put up a notice saying, "This is what we did, and we don't get to sell cigarettes for the next month," or whatever it is.

What's the thinking here about this in terms of how…? Are there any changes contemplated about how this information will be conferred to the public, that there has been a penalty at a place, the nature of the penalty and why an action has been taken? In most cases, I mean, a fine…. I think the fine gets paid, and the business continues to operate. Probably nobody other than the banker, the accountant, knows what's happened, when the cheque's been written. If you close the doors for a couple of weeks, it's an entirely different piece of business.

How is that going to be dealt with? Is there a change? How does information get out? How does the public become aware that you have a licensee who clearly has not been playing by the rules and has faced a consequence?

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S. Simpson: Going to section (i), respecting sales and service and sampling of products of a brewery, winery, distillery, etc., if those changes are going to happen, could the minister tell us a little bit about how that's affected by municipal laws? I'll give an example.

For example, some of the breweries are down in a light-industrial area adjacent to a residential area in my constituency. They want to expand their tasting room, and they've been looking to do that in a way that I think is probably pretty manageable. I don't have a problem with their interest in doing that.

But I do know that if you start doing those things…. As the minister said, we're not looking to create more licensed operations, in some covert way or some way by stealth, through tasting rooms. But what's the expectation of the minister about the requirements if these changes…?

Do these changes have to be also signed off by a municipality, which might say: "You're essentially creating an opportunity for further consumption or additional consumption of alcohol in our jurisdiction, and we're not entirely certain we want it there, because that's not what we plan to have happen in this particular area or neighbourhood or whatever"? How does that work with the regulation? How does that all concern itself?

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S. Simpson: Just to be clear, then, it would be a requirement, presumably, of the general manager to say: "Before you come and talk to me about an approval here, you have to be able to demonstrate that you've met the requirements of your local government. When you've done that, then come and have a conversation with me about changing the terms of your licence or your ability to sell alcohol in some fashion."

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S. Simpson: Section (j) — this respects liquor pricing and liquor serving sizes in licensed establishments. This is probably an area that I've heard as much or more from people about as any other, and it's people who say: "I go into this lounge, and I'm ordering a glass of wine. It says that I have a glass of wine, and it gives me a price. That glass of wine is going to run somewhere between 4½ and six ounces or so. Nothing in here, nothing on this menu, is telling me what I'm buying." It's the same with beer as to the size of the sleeve or the pint glass or whatever.

We know that many establishments, I think, choose to do that. Right on their menus or whatever they identify that it's a 20-ounce beer or that it's a six-ounce glass of wine so that you know what it is.

Is it contemplated here that, in fact, there's going to be any requirement for bars and licensed establishments, in their menus, to tell people what they're getting? So when they pay $8 for a glass of wine, they're getting five ounces of wine or six ounces or whatever it is — to tell people what they're getting.

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S. Simpson: I believe that was the case. But I don't think that it says that at some point you have to make that available, if you're asked. I'm not sure. Does it say that you actually have to make that available on the menu or at the table so that when I'm looking at what I want to purchase, that information is evident to me at the time?

I know that many do — increasingly, numbers of establishments are doing it — but I wasn't certain that it actually is the requirement that in the menu you have to identify the amount.

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S. Simpson: I understand that. I'm just trying to make the minister's life easier, because it is a concern for people. Thank you for that.

Just looking, I think that we're going to be good to go with that section.

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S. Simpson: Could the minister explain the changes? Sections 86 to 88 are repealed, and they're replaced with a new 86 around the authorization to sell or serve liquor. Could the minister explain the changes?

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S. Simpson: Section 35 repeals 91 and 92 and sets a new 91 with "Terms and conditions on authorization." Could the minister explain those changes, and what's different?

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S. Simpson: Would this section in 91…? I know there's been the public discussion around things like beer gardens, the enclosed or restricted beer gardens versus the option at events that are licensed events to be able to allow people to maybe walk around with a beer rather than be restricted to a beer garden area. Is that something that would be covered by this area?

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S. Simpson: When I read through this, though…. For example, (2)(b) says: "establish the event site, both indoor and outdoor, where liquor may be sold and served." I go down further, and it talks about: "limit the ability to sell or serve liquor at the event if the number of persons in attendance at the event exceeds a specified number." Another one talks about: "specify requirements for service of food and non-alcoholic beverages."

It certainly sounds like it's not a matter of selling. It's a matter of actual service and being able to sell individual drinks to people and have them have food and whatever. So it does seem like it's not just about retail — i.e., a farmers market.

Could the minister tell us what the circumstances are, then, around those? I'll give the minister an example of one of the questions I would have. It says the ability to limit the size or the number of people, I believe, at an event.

Today, for example, you may have a festival or an event that has a beer garden. The festival has 5,000 people at it, and the beer garden holds 200 people. The limit on the ability is the 200 seats, and when you get to 200 people in the beer garden, it's full, and there's no more room for anybody to come in.

How do you determine...? When you take away the fence and say that people can now drink, you're now probably saying it's not limited to 200 people anymore, because you can hold 5,000 people at the site. How do you make those decisions, when you change the rule, about how many people can buy a drink?

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S. Simpson: Just picking up on the minister's comments there. We currently have a situation, then, with a licensee. Are these conditions that are placed...? Maybe it's in the existing law. I'd be happy to.... I think there are one or two additions to this list over what existed under the current 91 and 92. Does the existing licensee, then, have to meet all of these conditions? Is all of this laid out, and they have to identify all of these matters in order to satisfy the general manager, whether you're on a ski hill or whatever?

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S. Simpson: Could the minister tell us if this kind of...? I just want to clarify. So this is not at all a special event. This deals specifically and exclusively with people who have existing and ongoing licences that are in place. It's not about any special occasion licence. It's not about: "I'm doing a particular event, and I'm going to have a licence approved for that."

This is ongoing events, for example, a farmers market. Let's take an example of a farmers market in Vancouver — or any place, for that matter — that kind of is on Saturdays and Sundays. So they would have a standing licence for Saturdays and Sundays, but it's not for other kinds of special events. I'm just trying to determine the difference between this and what a special occasion event is.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019 - 12:00pm - 4:30pm