Victoria relaxes Victorian-era beer garden rules

You can now drink beer outside of beer gardens at outdoor festivals. - Contributed
You can now drink beer outside of beer gardens at outdoor festivals.
— image credit: Contributed

Victoria will no longer require you to barricade yourself if you want to sip a beer in a beer garden at outdoor festivals.

Instead, imbibers can sit with everyone else, and their families, thanks to another change announced in the liquor laws.

The change is now in effect, the latest unrolled as part of the Liquor Policy Review, but it’s not having any effect on one of Maple Ridge’s signature summer events.

“We have a beer garden and we’re not going to change it,” said Lorraine Bates, organizer with Country Fest.

The event in Albion Fairgrounds will go on unchanged, with a fenced-off beer garden because of security concerns, said Bates. The free event takes place July 26 and 27.

“It’s not a priority and we don’t put a lot of emphasis on it,” said Bates.

“We’d rather be known as a family event.”

Opening up the entire spectating area in front of the stage to beer drinkers would require more security than the single guard now used, she explained. It will make it harder to police.

“It’s just easier to monitor in a fenced area.”

Deddy Geese, organizer with the Maple Ridge Caribbean Festival, wants to keep some kind of fence around the beer garden at the downtown festival, which takes place this July 12 and 13.

But a metre-high fence would work better instead of the two fences more than two metres high, with a dead zone in between, that separated the beer garden from the rest of the crowd last year.

“It’s certainly very interesting news.”

With government support declining and less corporate support, beer sales are a major fundraiser for the free event which takes place in Memorial Peace Park, Geese said.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think finally Canada has finally come to the age of responsible drinking like they do in Europe.”

This year, the beer garden will be managed by a separate caterer and it’s not sure what kind of area will be created.

Geese said some people still get carried away and given a hot day, and prolonged drinking there could be problems. Municipal laws will also have an effect.

Under the new rules, organizers could apply for a whole-site special occasion licence. That could require a perimeter fence, plus secondary fencing within the event where the liquor is being sold. Once people have purchased their alcohol, they will be allowed to consume it anywhere within the whole-site area.


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