Bar patrons may toast the idea to bring back happy hours in B.C. drinking establishments, but that's not the case for the owner of several popular downtown watering holes. B.C. laws currently don't allow licensed facilities to change their drink prices part way through the day.
That effectively stops establishments from having lower-priced happy hours to fill seats during normally slower periods of the day. Some blame lower drink prices for higher incidents of liquor-related problems, from bar fights through impaired driving and alcoholism.
Low drink prices was held up as a problem downtown a decade ago, and led to the city of Nanaimo introducing so-called good neighbour agreements requiring licensed establishments to reduce problems with liquor over-consumption.
During public input to the B.C. Liquor Policy Review, John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, heard a pitch to remove that law, from the lobby group Campaign for Culture. In its 12-page submission, the group said since Ontario overturned its ban on happy hours in 2007, that province saw no increase in the number of impaired driving cases.
"In fact, impaired driving cases have decreased since 2007, after levelling off in the mid 2000s," the submission states.
Jerry Hong, owner of the Queen's Hotel nightclub and the Occidental, said while lower prices would attract business in slower periods, it would boost alcohol consumption, putting responsible bar owners at risk of liability.
"If someone gets drunk, they crash and I get sued," Hong said.
"Unless I'm here to make as much money in as short a time as possible, and get the hell out, it doesn't make sense."
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