Booze license rules a risk to community, council says

The Village of Burns Lake plans to write a letter to the government expressing concern over the effects of liquor license owners moving their permits to another community.

The letter will be sent to Mary Sue Maloughney, Assistant Deputy Minister of the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB).

Chief Administrative Officer Sheryl Worthing said that she has spoken with a contact at the LCRB but for confidentiality reasons the contact couldn’t say if an application was received from a business in Burns Lake to relocate its liquor license.

Liquor regulations in British Columbia permit licensees to move to different locations and the rules cover bars, retail shops and restaurants, among other establishments.

Licensees must fill out an application and the processing time is three to six months, according to the LCRB website.

READ MORE: Relocation of an existing liquor licensee

But rules aside, mayor Dolores Funk said that a licensee moving to a different community would have negative effects on Burns Lake.

“I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop it but it’s going to have a huge impact on our community,” she said.

“I don’t know if [the government] recognizes the challenges that creates for small communities. I think they should at least be aware.”

Funk also mentioned that the impacts would be compounded by the moratorium on buying new retail liquor licenses and wine store licenses. It was introduced in 2014 – under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act – and lasts until July 1, 2022.

As a side effect, the ban makes it harder to open a new bar or liquor store while existing licenses can be sold for high sums.

“I’ve talked to a pub owner and he told me that this license alone could sell for $500,000. So, shutting down a business and selling the licenses isn’t good for the community but good for the person,” said councillor Henry Wiebe.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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