City rescinds bylaw limiting alcohol at dinner

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Council hoped to target restaurants receiving many complaints by limiting alcohol to 50 per cent of bill

Richard J. Dalton Jr.

Vancouver restaurant owners will no longer face a strict limit on how much alcohol they can sell, city Coun. Heather Deal said Monday.

Council last week revised a recently enacted bylaw that limited alcohol to 50 per cent of a restaurant’s sales.

“It’s really refreshing to see a government change course, and then change course in a common-sense way,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

The new bylaw requires the ratio of food to liquor sales to be “consistent with a restaurant use.”

It also says the restaurant must offer its full menu while alcohol is being served.

The previous bylaw, passed last month, limited alcohol to 50 per cent of a restaurant’s sales.

That bylaw was put in place so the city could target restaurants receiving many complaints, Deal said, adding the city never intended to go around checking receipts.

But the bylaw raised concerns that restaurants serving expensive alcohol would exceed the limit.

Tostenson said four people buying a plate of nachos and a glass of wine each would easily exceed the 50-per-cent limit.

Meanwhile, changes to liquor hours approved last month remain in effect. Restaurant owners can apply to extend their hours to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends.

Previously, there had been a hodgepodge of liquor hours, the result of a city decision in 2003 to limit closing hours to midnight for new applicants but to allow existing licensees to retain their longer hours.

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