B.C. Liquor Comes to Farmers’ Markets

Local farmers' markets bring on the booze and raise a glass to liquor policy changes 

Credit: Pemberton Distillery

The freshest produce, local artisans selling their wares and a community atmosphere that can’t be beat – it almost seems as if B.C.’s farmers’ markets couldn’t possibly get any better. But this summer, markets will be even sweeter with the introduction of B.C.’s Liquor Policy Review changes that allow vendors to sell beer, wine, cider and spirits.

The changes come following a Liquor Policy Review by the Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform, John Yap. Yap took input from B.C. residents through email, Twitter and comments on the government Liquor Policy Review website as well as meeting with various stakeholders.

The information gathered was compiled into a report that included 73 recommendations for the province to modernize the liquor laws. These recommendations are being phased in, with 17 already in place including the one that allows the sale of liquor in farmers’ markets.

“Being able to pick up a bottle of local wine at your local farmers’ market is one of many balanced changes that support convenience and choice for consumers and economic growth for B.C.,” Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton said in a statement.

On June 24, Whistler Farmers’ Market took to their Facebook page to announce that they will have liquor from the Pemberton Distillery for sale. The Pemberton Distillery is an organic, family-owned artisan distillery and the first distillery to be approved for farmers’ markets in B.C. Under the new laws, liquor manufacturers will apply directly to the markets, and the market association will make the ultimate decision about who may or may not sell alcohol at their markets.

Other suggestions that have been implemented include allowing liquor-primary establishments to apply to allow minors in up until 10 p.m. and the introduction of happy hour. The government’s goal is to have 70 per cent of the recommendations implemented by next spring. Many of the recommendations have an emphasis on promoting local products and retailers.