The sun is showering Richmond with golden splendour as you and your family head down to picturesque Garry Point Park.
You reach the scattered driftwood near the shoreline and put down your picnic basket, pull out a gingham table cloth and plunk down your lunch that includes a chilled bottle of wine, its glass exterior starting to sweat in the noon day heat.
You pop it open, pour a glass for you and your spouse and toast the perfect family day out.
There's no need to look furtively over your shoulder for the local constabulary intent on confiscating your beverages. And there's no glaring looks of disapproval from passersby. That's because this is the near future - or at least a possible version of it. A future where B.C.'s liquor laws have been amended to allow public consumption of alcohol.
And how things have changed in this particular world of tomorrow - you can also take your kids with you to the local bar during daytime hours so you can dine together as a family.
And on your way home you can stop off at the friendly, local corner store near your home and grab that bottle of Baileys to cap off your evening coffee.
Could this be? The changes in this future time are presently being considered by the B.C. government which is soliciting input from the public and commercial sectors on what they would like amended when it comes to how we buy and consume alcohol.
According to B.C.'s Ministry of Justice, which oversees liquor regulations, the restrictions are "outdated and inefficient."
"Right now, some of B.C.'s liquor laws go back many years," said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton in a press release announcing the consultation process kickoff in early August.
"In concert with industry and citizens, we are looking to make practical and responsible changes which promote consumer convenience and economic growth in the province, with a strong eye to maintaining public safety and protecting the health of our citizens.
"Once the public consultation process begins in September, British Columbians can let us know how they would like to see B.C.'s liquor laws reformed."
Richmond-Stevston Liberal MLA John Yap has been given the responsibility as parliamentary secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, to meet with groups including First Nations, local governments and police over the coming two months and then condense it in a final report by the end of November.
B.C's liquor laws which govern a billion-dollar business have not undergone a major review in 14 years, and it has some Richmond pub operators wondering what the landscape could be like once all the suggestions have been taken into account and the government returns with a potentially new set of recommendations.
Scott Thompson, manager of the Pumphouse Pub, said last summer's change to provincial liquor regulations that allowed restaurant customers to bring their own wine to dinner and pay a corkage fee to have it served is one existing law that should be changed to apply to pubs, as well.
It's all part of the blurring of the line between restaurants and pubs.
"Basically, what it means to us is those with a restaurant licence end up getting a lot more benefit than a pub licence," Thompson said. "Meanwhile, we end up paying a higher premium - we end up paying more for our licence."
Thompson said many restaurants today have a lounge section that essentially operates in the same manner as a pub, "only with a lot less scrutiny, and a lot less taxes and fees."
"As the laws have changed over the past 10 years, more and more restaurants
are becoming more like pubs," he said. "They are almost able to operate in the same way."
The differences, in some instances, have become so insignificant that Thompson learned a pub in North Vancouver is planning to switch from its current licence to become a restaurant because of the boost it can get in business.
But in general, a lot of the laws are fine the way they are, Thompson said.
"We've grown to deal with them." Yet some still defy logic and hamper solid business practises.
One such stumbling block for the owners of multiple pubs is not being able to transfer stock from one of its locations to another.
"That's a bit of a hindrance for no real reason that I can conceive of," Thompson said.
Also, not being able to purchase hard-tofind or niche market products from a private liquor store is an impediment.
"That would give us an advantage of not having to buy product by the case lot," Thompson said, adding bars like his stock only a small amount of rare products on the shelves.
"You may get a customer ordering it once or twice a year, but it's worth having there if someone wants it," he said.
Open all hours
Increased pub opening hours would be better for business, you may think? On the contrary, said Glenn Jensen, who has been in the hospitality industry in Richmond since the mid-1980s and runs Legends Pub.
Jensen said longer hours for pubs doesn't interest him, "That just usually means your customers come in later," he said.
What he'd prefer to see is a clear indication of the future of liquor being sold in privately owned corner and larger grocery stores.
Jensen, who also owns a private liquor store in the Terra Nova area, said a move towards corner store sales would significantly impact his business, unless he, and other private liquor store owners, were granted territorial rights.
Also opposed to increasing the number of outlets where alcohol can be sold is Gennesse Langdon, manager of the Buck & Ear Bar & Grill in Steveston. But it's not the potential competition she is concerned about.
"I come from a small town (Yarrow)
where we don't have a (B.C. Government) liquor store," she said. "And there are two gas stations and a convenience store, and all three have started selling liquor. So, I can tell you personally that's definitely changed business."
Langdon said she saw a steady increase of floor area dedicated to liquor in the stores.
"The grocery store stopped selling as much food as they used to. Pretty much most of their produce aisle became liquor," she said.
"I think in a place like Richmond, where there are so many liquor stores, I don't see the need to increase that. And I find for younger people who are not of legal drinking age, going into those stores, they can be overwhelmed by all the liquor around them. don't necessarily think that's appropriate.
"Kids have enough stuff to worry about without having booze pushed in their faces."
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