OUR VIEW: New liquor rules will add responsibility

We say: The operators of events will have to police drinkers

Big changes are afoot in the administration of liquor in this province.

And while most of the changes mark a shift toward treating adults as adults, among those who choose to drink, not everyone exhibits adult behaviour where the consumption of alcohol is concerned.

Part of the proposed changes include eliminating beer gardens, the penned off areas at public events that separate “family” areas from those where carded adults may purchase and drink alcohol.

On the surface, the idea of allowing people who may be attending events with underage family members to enjoy their beverages as a family makes sense. We’d like to think that people who take their young relatives to an event aren’t going to over-consume alcohol in their presence.

But the potential for problems doesn’t lie with the majority of people who will obey the law, behave themselves and ensure that only adults in their group partake in alcoholic beverages. It’s with the small minority who choose to flout the rules, get drunk and obnoxious in a “family” area and perhaps worse, buy alcohol for underaged drinkers.

Promoters of music festivals and other similar large-crowd events have applauded the proposed changes, saying they will bring B.C. into the 21st century when it comes to treating people with respect and allowing them to make the right choices. But what about festival goers who don’t make the right choices? Attendees will need to be watched closely as new rules are phased in. Based on past experience, we expect the province to shift that task onto liquor licensees, in this case, the people who stage community events. Will those organizations, many of which operate largely on a volunteer basis, have the resources or the expertise to take on the role of ensuring liquor doesn’t fall into the hands of minors? Local organizers have shown they can manage the task under the old system. What’s clear is these issues will need to be addressed before the province puts pen to paper and creates new regulations.

– Black Press