Some bar owners not so happy new liquor laws in B.C. may raise prices for beer

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VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s new happy hour laws may actually raise prices for beer at some bars.

The province is now allowing pubs to change prices throughout the day to create drink specials, but is also enforcing a minimum price of 25 cents per ounce when serving beer.

The owner of two Vancouver bars says that would raise the price of drinks at one of his establishments.

Sam Yehia said including tax, he charges $12.50 for a 50-ounce pitcher of beer, but the province’s minimum rates would make him charge more than $14.

“It’s more like a depressed hour,” said Yehia. “It’s a bit silly isn’t it?”

Douglas Scott of the province’s liquor board wrote in an email the new minimum rates will be enforced at all times, not just for happy hours.

Scott said if an inspector finds a bar owner charging below the minimum rate, penalties will only occur if the owner was intentionally doing so.

Otherwise, inspectors will inform owners of the price changes and follow up later.

Scott said both businesses and health advocates wanted a minimum pricing scheme to encourage responsible drinking.

“It was important to us that we listened to both industry and health advocates, said Scott. “We have done exactly that.”

In January, the government endorsed 73 recommendations to change B.C.’s liquor laws, 17 of which have been carried out to date.

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