Are Happy Hours (and Cheaper Drinks) Coming to Vancouver?

Photo credit: Sean | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Sean | Wikimedia Commons

Every other province in Canada (and pretty much every other place on Earth) has them – Why not B.C.?

Happy hours, the time-honoured tradition of cheap drinks and early bird specials, may be coming to Vancouver if the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association gets their way, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.  The association has just submitted the request to the B.C. Liquor Policy Review as part of a package of suggestions to modernize the province’s liquor laws.

Currently, B.C. law prohibits bars and restaurants from altering their prices during the course of a day, which makes happy hours a bit of a problem.  Tipplers out to enjoy an early drink or after-work aperitif have to pay full price despite the off hour.  Meanwhile in nearby cities like Seattle, happy hours are an institution, with bars devising elaborate food and drink specials to lure in patrons.

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association is also hoping to get some redress for another pet peeve of Vancouver diners: exorbitant alcohol prices.  Because of complex liquor taxes, B.C. diners often end up paying 15-20 percent more for drinks than neighbours in Alberta, according to the Sun. (And let’s not even get into how much cheaper alcohol is in the States).

The Association proposes a change to a simple flat tax based on the alcohol content of a bottle of wine or spirits rather than its price.  According to their estimates, some 70-80 percent of products (anything priced over $12) would then come down in price.  At the same time, they’re petitioning for a wholesale discount of 16 percent on alcohol sold to restaurants and bars, a savings that would be passed on to diners.  Currently, licensed establishments in B.C. pay the same retail price for alcohol as ordinary consumers, less the 10 percent sales tax.

Whether affordable drinks and happy hours will be making an appearance in Vancouver anytime soon, however, remains to be seen.  The recommendations will be included as part of a report submitted to B.C.’s Liquor Review chairman on Nov. 25.  Until then, Vancouver drinkers can expect to pay up, as usual.

Would you like to see happy hours come to Vancouver?  Weigh in below. 

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza

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2 Responses to Are Happy Hours (and Cheaper Drinks) Coming to Vancouver?

  1. While I am optimistic the liquor laws may change and we will begin to see happy hours, I highly doubt any savings the restaurants get will be passed down to the patrons.
    If a restaurant pays $15 for a bottle of wine, they charge a minimum of $30 to the customer. Anyone who thinks the price will come down to say, $25, is dreaming.

    These days, no business tends to pass savings down to the customers. This will simply increase their profits, so why would they reduce these profits by offering cheaper drinks?

    The same goes for the Government. They will NOT in any way reduce any tax revenue on alcohol. Alcohol tax is a cash cow for our governments, and they will never change that.

    The best case scenario in my opinion will be better wholesale prices for restaurants and bars and possibly wine and beer available in supermarkets. Other than that, I believe we are in for much of the same.

  2. muchogrande

    I really really do hope so, but as Sam says, I’m not holding my breath as the current government has a special way about disappointing taxpayers. Red Tape is their middle name.

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