To: Suzanne Anton, Attorney-General & Minister of Justice
From: B.C. Liquor Policy Review Implementation Committee
Dear Minister Anton,
This memo will update you on further proposed amendments to the B.C. Liquor Act.
We have seen tremendous positive public reaction to virtually every change announced as a result of the Liquor Policy Review: children allowed in pubs, extended liquor store hours, beer and wine sales in grocery stores and so on. As we dribble out these changes strategically, drop by drop if you will, most have been greeted as "good news" stories by the public and the media. We have so far announced fewer than half of the 73 recommendations in the report, and to date we are very pleased with the results.
Some of the changes yet to be announced may prove challenging from a public acceptance point of view, but we're confident people will reflexively applaud the news, order another round and go back to watching the hockey game.
The following recommendations are NOT contained in the Liquor Policy Review, but meet our goals of maximizing liquor consumption and therefore provincial revenues. And goodness knows, we could use the cash.
1) Lowering the legal drinking age to 15. This may be a hard sell to begin with, but we plan to position alcoholic beverages as an alternative to marijuana for young people and convince parents that having a beer or a glass of wine is preferable to having your kids baked all of the time. We will also begin an information and education campaign aimed at parents to persuade them that, as with sex education, ignorance does not lead to abstinence. We expect that this could generate an additional $200-million per year, boosting B.C.'s annual liquor sales to more than $1.3-billion dollars per year. Targeting advertising to young people may be problematic, which is why we're looking at more subtle forms of marketing such as brand placement in classrooms, playground sponsorships, and viral marketing campaigns tied to video games and teen chat apps.
2) Keeping government liquor stores open 24/7/365. Look, you can't generate revenue when the doors are locked. We propose keeping all government liquor stores open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, 365 days a year including Christmas, Easter Sunday and especially on Family Day. This will be accompanied by an aggressive marketing campaign led by the same team that handles lottery and gaming products. (Disclaimers similar to those that currently appear in lottery ads to prevent abuse will be included in all marketing materials and we're certain will be every bit as effective.) There is also an opportunity to tie this in to the province's rapidly expanding idea of an oil and gas industry with a campaign aimed at workers whose shifts finish at 8 a.m., with messaging along the lines of: "If anyone deserves a cold beer this morning, it's you, LNG hero."
3) Installing swim-up bars at community centre pools. Let's face it, swimming with the kids at the local pool can be a chore at the best of times. Scraping your knees on the floor of a metre-deep "fun-pool" in water that, while warm, is comprised of about 20 per cent child urine, and having to pay attention every time your kids say: "Look at me, Daddy, look at me!" Ugh. Now imagine being able to swim up to a corner of the pool where fabulous and frosty tropical cocktails are being prepared by toned and tanned bartenders. This may increase community centre use and meets our goal of building bridges between families, neighbours and lonely singles. This will also increase local employment opportunities for bartenders and the additional lifeguards who will be required.
4) Increasing allowable alcoholic beverage portion size in restaurants and bars. There's no earthly reason that anyone who wants a half-litre of vodka in a mug with no ice shouldn't be allowed to have it – providing they can pay.
5) SkyTrain Bar Cars. True, many of the trains already smell like bar cars, but on these ones, there's a valid reason. Instead of standing in the crush with the rest of the dead-faced commuters avoiding eye contact by playing some stupid game on your phone or checking your pathetic Twitter mentions feed that hasn't moved in three days, head to the back of the train and celebrate the end of the work day with people just like you! This may be expanded to other cars as needed. As well, drinks can be paid for with your Compass Card when it goes into full effect, some time before 2021.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 690 AM and 88.1 FM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn