Chamber of commerce calls for liquor law reform

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce wants the government to give Yukoners more options when it comes to purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages.

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce wants the government to give Yukoners more options when it comes to purchasing and consuming alcoholic beverages.

In April 2014, the chamber wrote to the Yukon Liquor Corporation proposing five rule changes that would bring the territory in line with other jurisdictions.

One of the recommendations was recently implemented. Last month the government announced a new 10 per cent wholesale discount on booze prices for bars, restaurants and off-sale agents. The change came into effect this week.

“We’re pleased with the one that was announced,” said Peter Turner, president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. “It’s the one that moves the needle most for hospitality industry.

“We were encouraging them to try an enact it in time for the summer hospitality season, and we’re really pleased that they not only managed to do it for that, but even managed to do it essentially for Rendezvous.”

The other recommended changes would likely require a legislative amendment, which takes more time, he said.

The chamber has asked the government to consider rules to allow private liquor stores to set up in the territory, to allow beer and wine to be served at sidewalk cafes, to allow patrons to bring their own wine to restaurants for a corkage fee, and to allow for microbreweries to operate and serve their product on the premises.

“Pretty much anywhere else in the country you can go – you can go down to Granville Island in B.C. or whatever and have a microbrewery beer, and we’d love to see that here,” said Turner.

“We’ve got all the raw material for it, we just need the legislation that would allow for it.”

Doug Caldwell, spokesperson for the liquor corporation, said it is in the early stages of considering the chamber’s other recommendations.

If the changes come through at all will depend largely on the direction of Stacey Hassard, the recently appointed minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, said Caldwell.

The minister is currently getting up to speed on the file, but he has been in touch with the chamber about its concerns, he said.

“He’s got the inside skinny on what’s going on from the chamber’s perspective.”

It’s too early to say at this point when the changes may come, said Caldwell.

“There’s no allusion to timing in this at all. It’s going to be at the pleasure of the minister’s direction.”

When asked if the chamber would support the regulation of pint sizes, as is the case in B.C. and other jurisdictions, Turner responded that the chamber had not considered the issue, but that it may have merit.

“It’s obviously a big thing in, for example, England. And they actually have a line on the glasses so you can do that. We hadn’t looked at it as a particular issue but it’s always good to be serving what they refer to in England as an ‘honest pint.’ I’d personally certainly be an advocate for that.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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