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British Columbia Catering Industry Needs Your Help

February 20, 2012

Dear Friends,

Re:  Special Occasion Licenses (SOLs)

I am representing a group of BC caterers that came together early this year to work on getting our liquor policy changed.  We have spent countless hours and many dollars on our lobbying efforts and now we need your help.  We are asking for your support to get our liquor policy changed so caterers and hotels can get a liquor license on your client’s behalf when they are hosting an event in a venue that does not have a liquor license.   Please read the following and if you are in agreement please send a letter to your MLA as well as Minister Coleman’s office, referencing the solution we are recommending at the end of this article.  The liquor policy is in review right now, so it is important that your letter of support is sent very soon.

Debra Lykkemark, President and CEO
Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch Policy 2.4.3 states “caterers, event planners and other businesses which plan and manage events are not eligible to apply for SOL licenses. The license must be obtained by the individual or organization hosting the event.  The licensee may choose to hire an event organizer, caterer, bartender, or staff to run the event or serve the liquor which the host has purchased under its SOL.  The licensee is always responsible for purchasing the liquor and transporting it to the event and is always legally responsible for liquor service”.

The implications of this policy are very significant to the Province’s tourism and hospitality sector especially for convention groups or individuals outside of British Columbia wanting to hold an event using an SOL.   The following are examples from my company:

  • In the first week of May, 2011 Culinary Capers catered nine large events for between 200 to 800 international guests for the RIM conference.  These parties were hosted by international insurance firms such as Marsh Insurance, Trust Risk Control and Aon Reed Stenhouse.   The parties were hosted at the Richmond Oval, The Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World, Rocky Mountaineer Rail Station, Bill Reid Gallery and Holt Renfrew.   All of these venues require a SOL (Special Occasion Liquor License).   The holder of the SOL has to also purchase and transport the liquor.

Caterers and Event Planners are not allowed to get an SOL or transport the liquor on their client’s behalf.   Our international clients had to get the license, purchase the liquor and hire a delivery company to transport the liquor to the venue.  They also had to accept liability for all their guests as the holder of the SOL assumes this responsibility.   Being insurance companies they were very concerned about accepting this responsibility and could not understand why they had to get the liquor license and accept the responsibility when it is our staff pouring the liquor.   The impact on our tourism and convention business could be massive if these international conferences decide not to return to BC because it is too difficult to do events here with the current liquor policies.

There are also serious issues with the current SOL regulations and accountability.  The person required to the get the SOL license is not necessarily a BC resident or a Canadian citizen.  If there are issues around the serving of liquor, how can they be enforced if the person holding the SOL has left BC or Canada?

The Presidents and CEO’s of Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Whistler, and Tourism Victoria feel strongly that this policy needs to be changed.

The solution we are proposing:
Create a New Class of Liquor License:   Alberta has a Class D License which would be exactly what we need.  A Class D commercial caterer’s license may be issued to a qualified applicant who operates a business with a permanent kitchen facility to cater to private and public functions off premises.

For more information go to http://www.aglc.ca/pdf/liquor/5225.pdf

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  If you have any questions please call me at 604-875-0123 or email me at debra@culinarycapers.com.

Please email your letters of support to your local MLA, the Premier, and to Minister Coleman’s office:  rich.coleman.MLA@leg.bc.ca; premier@gov.bc.ca


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