Drink Up! Happy Hours Approved for Vancouver

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski | Flickr

Photo credit: QuinnDombrowski | Flickr

Vancouverites can finally do something that drinkers across the country have been able to do for years: Enjoy a happy hour.

British Columbia will become the last province in the nation to endorse happy hours – the time-honoured rite of discount drinks after work. The change is one of eight new liquor reforms announced this week by Premier Christie Clark, which are set to go into effect this spring.

The happy hour reform will wipe off the books an old regulation barring bars and restaurants from changing their liquor prices over the course of the day.  Now, licensed establishments can offer discounts on booze during off-peak hours, wooing patrons with cut-rate beer, wine and other alcohol.

There’s more good news for local drinkers.  The antiquated law requiring customers to order food with their drinks at certain “food-primary” establishments is also on its way out.  This hated rule required drinkers – even those with no interest in eating – to shell out for food in order to be served alcohol at certain venues, regardless of the time of day or night.

In addition, children will now be permitted inside neighbourhood pubs at certain times of the day, for instance during Sunday brunch, lunch or dinner. Consumers will also be able to carry their drinks between the lounge and restaurant sections of an establishment.

Behind the scenes, liquor licenses will now be available to cooking schools, galleries and spas, chain restaurants will be allowed to transfer liquor between locations and the province’s Serving it Right responsible beverage program will be beefed up.

The changes are part of 70 proposed modifications to B.C.’s outdated liquor laws included in a recent report compiled by the Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform after extensive public consultation. Already endorsed by the premier are rules that will allow liquor sales within grocery stores and also allow farmer’s markets to sell local booze.

The entire report will be released in February and approved changes are expected to be implemented in the spring.

What do you think about happy hours coming to Vancouver? Let us know below.  

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

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38 Responses to Drink Up! Happy Hours Approved for Vancouver

  1. juliet bumstead

    a think its a big mistake. happy hour has been the downfall in the u.k as the ones who CANNOT control their drinking and take full advantage of it. our towns and cities are no go areas at night because of the drunken behaviour of these people. if it aint broke don’t fix it

    • I demand Happy Hour throughout the Commonwealth!

    • Mike

      I agree. Anyone who has lived in the UK would know that people do not suddenly become responsible drinkers due to more lax laws. It’s going to get a lot worse. Oh well, when another riot happens it’s just one more reason to get rid of Clark.

      • John

        Huh? The riot only happened because the idiot mayor of Vancouver didn’t even read the 94 riot report. I value freedom over rules, unlike yourself


        • maxine

          I personally find this wrong on so many levels.

          First, you are allowing a young influential generation watch their family “drink” and then possibly drive while under the influence, in neighbourhood pubs that are notorious for having regular drunks.

          Next, with the “happy hour” does this mean that the police are going to enforce road blocks during the day when so many could potentially take advantage of the situation to drink and drive?

          I understand that being an adult, you need to make the right decisions but everyone knows when you are under the influence, majority of your decisions are not made with right mind set…

          As I mentioned in the beginning, this is wrong on so many levels and the reason I say this is because I find that Vancouver is filled with adults who have immature minds. Being from Europe, people do not abuse alcohol because it is so easily ready without these government rules that we have here.

          If Canada was more like Europe, then we would not have so many issues and adults can act like adults instead of breaking rules like teenagers do.

          • Plz go and take your communist remarks with you

          • maxine

            well Boom pow surprise…for someone whose website link is bodybuilding.com, you should have a little more intelligence from all that “weightlifting” to realize that my comment has nothing to do communism.

            For the record, I am first generation Canadian but have the pleasure of enjoying European culture with my extended family who live overseas.

            Obviously your mind is limited since this a comment forum regarding an article and seeing other’s peoples viewpoint.

            Guess you could think of no other comment pertaining to the article so you became fixated on other people’s remarks…

          • Antwoin Richardson

            Then go back to Europe.

          • Laura

            I find it rather hilarious how many of you think that a RIOT is going to break out because of HAPPY HOUR! Are you kidding me? I just have no other thoughts, well actually I have so many but there’s a little sentence asking me to be nice. Seriously though….A RIOT because of discounted beer after work? WHAT?!! Or are you suggesting that a riot will break out when patrons move their glass of wine from the bar to the lounge? Or will it be because someone brought their child for brunch at a “pub style” establishment…? WHAT?!

          • C

            Go back to Europe then. Simple as that.

  2. Barbara Sedunbarbara

    This is fantastic news! Canadian liquor laws have been archaic for far too long! Looking forward to buying wine at my supermarket and experimenting local brews at farmers’ markets. Bring it on!

  3. Kyle

    I’m confused….
    Why does “Happy Hour” have to be approved by the government? Can’t any bar have a “Happy Hour” special anytime they want to like any other special???
    Some bars have no cover before certain times, some bars have certain drinks and shooters for discount prices on special, some bars have whisky Wednesday, thirsty Thursday, Caesar Sunday… etc. Why is “Happy Hour” considered different than any other special?

    • Brianne

      Because, apparently, discounted “Happy Hour” drinks encourage binge drinking.

    • l

      Because currently they can only set a price once a day. Happy hour means that they can discount prices for a few hours and then raise them again in the same day.

    • Because our liquor is heavily taxed by the government. IIRC businesses can pay less liquor taxes for drinks sold during this time. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  4. Increased access to alcohol while people who make the safer choice to use cannabis instead are facing skyrocketing charges and penalties. Pot possession charges have doubled in BC since 2006.

    Marijuana is safer than alcohol, so why is Christy Clark driving us to drink?

  5. Its about time! Quebec had these laws 25 years ago.
    It makes no difference to me because I did all my drinking long ago when we still had to go across the border to get a drink on Sunday. Believe me if a person wants to drink they will find a way all this law does is bring Canada par with the rest of the world. They should legalize pot as well as far as I’m concerned.

  6. Sebastian

    Now if we can only get sky train on board with some changes. It’s absolutely asinine that the sky train doesn’t run 24h, especially on weekends.

    • Duncan

      The sky train cannot run 24h because it lacks a third track. Therefore, the trains have to shut down fir routine maintenance. Though, it boggles my mind that they don’t, least, run later on weekends.

  7. Em

    It’s about time we joined the real world!

  8. Pingback: Happy hour approved in BC | Could I Get The Bill Please?

  9. Cerra

    Awesome news!!!! Its about time. Those who are on tighter budgets now have a bit more wiggle room to go out and enjoy themselves. My favorite part about being in the USA is finding cool happy hours to go visit.

  10. ivan g

    We live in a free country. We need more freedoms.. if having happy hour is one more chance at being free , then why not.
    If you cannot handle this freedom, that’s your choice.. just like breaking the law…

  11. sam

    I think it’s fantastic. Welcome BC to the rest of the world…. I mean finally.

    Especially families can now all eat at the local pub and those who enjoy another round can stay and cab home while still enjoying family time with everyone.

    looking forward to the changes and being able to pick up drinks while I shop for groceries as well.

  12. Brenda

    Well, it is about time. I feel that we were a little bit conservative here in Canada and I think that this will now bring us up to speed with the rest of the world …. It will be nice for the visitors to our province to enjoy themselves freely… Of course we need to always be responsible and do not drink and drive ever. Happy to hear something positive for a change …

  13. David

    I am dissapointed to see the negative responses! We are the only province in Canada to have these archaic laws and I don’t hear that Eastern Canada have drunken rioters any worse than Vancouver! Drinks don’t force themselves down peoples throats!! Like with any decent values in life, it all comes down to a good education! Teach responsibility to children and parents will reap results. Its lazy parenting that pushes off the responsibility to authorities that result in these stupid archaic laws staying in force!! As a Vancouverite, I have been lucky enough to live in many parts of the world and I have seen no more bad drunken behaviour in other cities where Happy Hours exist or for that matter where you can sip a glass of wine in public!! (I sat on the banks of the river Seine, looking at the beautiful Eifel Tower along with many local Parisians sipping wine one evening in summer – it was all perfectly civilized)

  14. Dona

    Good for BC. Welcome to 2014.

  15. Susan

    I had no idea there was a problem until I saw this article. I think that it is fine to have a drink but most people have food with it. Should it be law? Don’t really care. As long as the people drinking are of legal age of course.

  16. Matt

    Still no ability to buy beer at supermarkets/grocery stores, eh? I guess the BC Liquor Stores distribution monopoly and the BCL workers union have far too much power.

    Hooray, another victory for organized labour in BC!!! Woooo!

  17. Dina

    I think she is on crack. What a stupid idea a premier would allow this to happen. Can’t wait for another riot to happen she will be the cause of it. People r so irresponsible can’t handle their alcohol. Fucked up.

  18. Dave

    Finally the Liberals do something right. Now if only they cared as much about the environment and reviewed the way Alberta has destroyed theirs.

  19. maxine

    Antwoin Richardson, wow…

    no wonder there is so many riots in Vancouver…with ignorant people making ignorant remarks and lacking any intellectual comments…that must mean that a percentage of male vancouverites must still live in the ice age

    cannot wait for the next riot…i request one thing…can you please start pounding your chests as well live on TV?


  20. Jason

    Some of you really need to read before you comment on something. This article isnt about “Canadian” liquor laws. Its about BC laws. Most of Canadian Provinces already have these in place. BC is simply catching up. …….and seriously..riots? That is amusing.

  21. Ali

    We have to accept that some percentage of the population has “issues” with behaviour of one kind or another – whether that is chocolate, sex, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, drugs, credit – whatever. YES some people have problems with alcohol. NEWS FLASH – Happy Hour is not a “gate way” to alcoholism. It is a marketing tool that I, for one, welcome! Vancouver has had silly, ineffective laws trying to legislate behaviour for too long. People who have problems with alcohol should be given help – but their issues shouldn’t dictate how everyone else can/must behave. I personally have no issues with sex, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, drugs, credit — but don’t leave a box of Purdy’s too close to me: still, I don’t demand that everyone have restricted access or that cheap chocolate be banned. Seriously – GIVE UP on trying to legislate morality. Doesn’t work. Period.

  22. Stan

    While I agree we are an over regulated society,,the new drinking regulations give me some concern…what will happen to the private liquor store owners that will witness a portion of their business go to large chain grocery stores…will a public funded buy out be in the makeing?….not sure I want to enjoy a cool one in my local watering hole,,with the neighbours,and all their kids

    • Benni

      Private stores can cater to more specialized beers instead of Coors lite and Budweiser. If they are creative, they can increase their margins by offering premium craft offerings instead of commodity beers.

  23. Ben Drinkin

    This boils down to a question of freedom. Those opposed simply want to bubble-wrap the world.

  24. danny

    I cannot wait for Happy Hour. From my understanding we’re the only major city in North America that does not have Happy Hour? That is ridiculous.

    Happy Hour will help vancouver be more social. After work you can pop into a local bar and enjoy a cold beer for $3 and chat up some strangers, maybe meet some new friends. the $7 beer prices in vancouver definitely stifle that. every other city in the world ive lived in has had a happy hour and a great social scene (and no it does not lead to more drinking and driving. check the stats). time to loosen up vancouver, you’re only 50 years behind the times