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Review ordered, aimed at bringing BC liquor prices down

Last Updated Nov 9, 2017 at 6:36 am PDT

(Photo by Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

Former Vancouver bar owner thinks prices in BC are the highest across the continent

BC government undertakes liquor review

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A new review aimed at bringing liquor prices down across British Columbia has been welcomed by a former Vancouver bar owner who says prices here are the highest in North America.

John Teti says the former Liberal government’s attempt to modernize BC liquor laws has failed.

“Anybody looking at this thing is going to come to the conclusion that the price of alcohol in BC is way too high. I can’t imagine what it would be like if you’re living in the Kootenays or in the northeast sector of BC. I mean, it’s a short drive to Grande Prairie. I don’t imagine anybody buying alcohol there — other than in Alberta.”

He adds prices have actually gone up and the only visible improvement is some wine is now being sold in grocery stores.

“Alcohol in BC is more expensive than anywhere else in North America. That’s my belief and that’s my experience. It’s my business and when I’m in other places in North America, I generally check the price of alcohol. It’s not comparable to here.”

Teti, who’s also one of the founding members of Bar Watch, says he has noticed more intoxicated young people in Vancouver’s entertainment district because they’re drinking most of their alcohol at home before heading out to a nightclub.

“Because of the price of alcohol. It’s just so expensive and they’re not drinking from a bar providing them with an ounced drink. They’re just free-drinking or they’re putting it into a 7/11 Big Gulp or something and the level of intoxication is high amongst young people because, you know, they’re pre-loading before they go out.”

Long-time wine industry lawyer Mark Hicken has now been hired as a liquor policy advisor for Attorney General David Eby.

Teti says he’s confident Hicken will make recommendations aimed at reversing harmful changes made by the former Liberal government.

“It didn’t happen, what they did is they had their own agenda and their agenda is to transfer the sale of alcohol to grocery stores, but cutting red tape should result in lower prices, but it hasn’t. The prices have gone up.”

Teti says the simple solution is for BC to have Alberta’s flat tax system. “It would be far too much to ask that it would be aligned with the United States, I guess, but surely, we should be able to align our liquor prices with Alberta.”