Police, health officers weigh in on booze review

Provincial reforms urged to help curb gangsters, alcoholism

B.C.'s liquor policy review is receiving suggestions on everything from the rules for revived Happy Hours to whether police should have more power to remove gangsters from bars.

B.C. police chiefs are urging the provincial government to give their officers more power to haul gangsters out of bars and restaurants.

That’s one of the suggestions received so far by the government’s liquor policy review, which is expected to lead to significant reforms.

“The province has been dealing with a wave of gang violence with many shootings occurring in and around licensed premises,” Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich said in a submission to the review.

Rich, who chairs the legislative committee of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, called for province-wide police power to unilaterally remove anyone they decide poses a risk to the public in a licensed establishment.

He said police already work with establishments through the Barwatch program to remove gang members, but owners or staff can be intimidated by gangsters.

“It’s the licensed premises that primarily has the authority to have people leave its premises if it’s concerned, but that’s difficult with gang members,” Rich said.

The police chiefs association also wants the definition of public drunkenness expanded to allow the arrest of people intoxicated by drugs, and not just liquor.

The submission also suggests the courts could order detoxification and treatment for the chronically intoxicated.

Another proposal would let police temporarily seize the guns of hunters they catch with open liquor.

Medical health officers are cautioning the government against letting liquor flow more freely.

They want the province to freeze or cut the number of private liquor retailers and ban online ordering and delivery.

To combat disease from abuse of cheap high-alcohol drinks, they are seeking a minimum price of $3 per standard drink consumed on site and $1.50 for off sales.

They also want pricing tied to alcohol content, so youth and others aren’t encouraged to buy high-strength drinks.

They oppose any decrease in the drinking age of 19.

The province has indicated it isn’t considering changes to pricing or taxation, which provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall said is unfortunate.

“Policy measures such as taxation are the most cost-effective public health response to the alcohol-related disease burden in countries with moderate and high levels of alcohol consumption,” he said in own response to the review.

Kendall questioned the government’s top priority of increasing or maintaining government liquor revenue – ahead of the second principle of minimizing health and social harms – and argued health system and other costs of alcohol use far exceed government revenues.

Meanwhile, a group called Campaign for Culture is promoting a return of happy hours and also urges the province to okay the sale of craft liquor at farmers’ markets.

B.C. is the only province that bans bars and restaurants from offering happy hour discounts in the late afternoon and early evening.

While the group supports lifting the restriction, it argues for a province-wide price minimum to prevent irresponsible practices like two-for-one, all-you-can-drink or women-drink-free offers.

Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap is leading the liquor policy review and is to table recommendations Nov. 25. For more information see http://engage.gov.bc.ca/liquorpolicyreview/

Just Posted

Comedy, chicken poop and dancing at Lytton Festival

This year’s festival will honour longtime supporter Shirley James

LETTER: Recreational angling has low-impact on Fraser salmon

Jason Tonelli writes about his displeasure at the call to close recreational fishing on the Fraser

Hope’s Wheeled Wild Women hit the road for cancer research

Group of friends ready for the 200-km bike trek that ends in Hope

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

Sts’ailes invites adults to become engaged in Halq’eméylem with new video series

‘Qw’oqwel te Qw’oqwel’ gives language learners an immersive way to learn Halq’eméylem

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read