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

Harrison retiree leaves legacy of ‘non-stop ideas’

Ruth Altendorf is remembered as a ‘“bubbly, enthusiastic, outgoing person’

Harrison musician Todd Richard gearing up for album release party in Chilliwack

Todd Richard’s third album, Live Your Life, features all ‘true-story’ songs

Told ‘no’ twice by local shelter, homeless Surrey man sent to Hope anyways

Deemed medically stable, patient was taxied to Hope by hospital when a spot in Surrey wasn’t located

Agassiz speed skater heading to Canada West championships

Mya Onos, 11, is qualified for her first provincials this year, and is now taking on Western Canada

Harrison considers future of memorial bench program

Harrison to keep maintaining bench plaques, council seems to feel new benches could be in the future

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Canucks hang on for 7-4 win over Senators

Horvat nets 2 for Vancouver

European, Canadian regulators to do own review of Boeing jet

Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1

Prime minister defends Liberal budget measures as sales effort gets underway

Conservatives under Andrew Scheer say it’s a spree funded by borrowing against the future

B.C. lottery winner being sued by co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Teacher reprimanded for conduct towards special needs student

Alan Stephen Berry told vice principal he did not have time to use positive strategies

‘Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Having phone within sight while driving does not violate law: B.C. judge

The mere presence of a cell phone within sight of a driver is not enough for a conviction, judge says

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Most Read