Fans of boilermakers and beer-backs may have noticed a big change in the way hooch is currently served in Vancouver bars and pubs. On one hand, the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) is suppose to regulate: liquor service in bars and restaurants. However, any cop will tell you that in too many public establishments, over-serving is a problem.
Policy wonks at the LCLB, which hold the monopoly interest on liquor regulation and distribution, had created a distinct de facto standard: Serve it!
Before the infamous riots, one of my daughters who works in a bar in Vancouver told me there doesn’t seem to be strict enforcement at the best of times. In many cases, the whole thing seems to rest on a kind of token gesture, or a hypothesis of availability.
Regardless of the rioting, there needs to be a crackdown on excessive drinking and over-serving, with a stern message for licensees – “think before you serve”.
The province should be determined to make a positive impact on alcohol-related violence and needs to get tough with anyone selling alcohol to drunks.
There is an undeniable link between drinking too much and the issues of violence and anti-social behaviour in our communities.
Licence holders and staff have a significant role to play in making sure that they act responsibly and don’t supply alcohol to people who have clearly had too much.
In my day as a cop, my officers were instructed to play their part by conducting regular high-profile visits to offer reassurance to the public and to make sure licensees are acting within the guidelines.
However, the onus is on them to take personal responsibility and be aware of the implications of selling drink to people when it is not appropriate.
Under licensing, it is an offence to serve alcohol to drunken persons. When someone has had enough to drink, licensees and their staff have a responsibility to withhold the service of more alcohol. This applies as much to an off-sales setting as it does to the sale of alcohol in pubs and clubs.
We need a robust approach from police, if licence holders and their staff are not adhering to the law they will be reported with the intention of having the licence for the premises suspended.
The message is simple: “If they have had enough they have had enough.” There should be NO gray area.
The LCLB will continue to apply itself primarily to issues of actual distribution, regardless of the need for changes. We, as residents, parents and taxpayers, need to be concerned with over-service and service to minors, and realize that some things never change unless we force the issue.