Nova Sco­tia re­view­ing bizarre liquor laws

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON/PROVINCE -

HAL­I­FAX — Premier Stephen McNeil says the Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing bizarre liquor laws that date back to the Pro­hi­bi­tion era. Nova Sco­tia has 105 dry com­mu­ni­ties, most of them ru­ral and un­aware of their sta­tus. It is the only prov­ince that re­stricts where liquor can be sold or pro­duced through pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion, and dry ar­eas can only be­come wet through plebiscite. Vot­ers in two small districts in­side the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of West Hants voted over­whelm­ingly Tues­day to al­low the sale and pro­duc­tion of liquor, end­ing their dry sta­tus. McNeil said Thurs­day the prov­ince is cur­rently re­view­ing all its liquor laws, and noted it re­cently changed a con­tro­ver­sial markup fee ap­plied to the brew­eries by the Nova Sco­tia Liquor Cor­po­ra­tion. Be­gin­ning April 1, the 50 cent per litre Re­tail Sales Markup Al­lo­ca­tion on craft beer will be changed to five per cent of whole­sale costs of sales made di­rectly by brew­ers. Since tav­erns were first le­gal­ized in Nova Sco­tia in 1948, 280 plebiscites have been held by the prov­ince’s al­co­hol and gam­ing di­vi­sion. Over the past 20 years, ev­ery vote has en­dorsed leav­ing Pro­hi­bi­tion be­hind. This week’s West Hants plebiscite was held be­cause a lo­cal res­i­dent has plans to es­tab­lish a winery, where he in­tends to sell the fi­nal prod­uct. The prov­ince does not have a list of com­mu­ni­ties that are con­sid­ered dry. An old map in a gov­ern­ment of­fice in Hal­i­fax is sup­posed to show which ones are still locked in Pro­hi­bi­tion, but the names are so faded that the doc­u­ment is of lit­tle use. When an ap­pli­ca­tion is made for a ru­ral liquor li­cence, re­search is of­ten re­quired to de­ter­mine if the area is still dry be­cause the elec­toral bound­aries have been re­drawn many times over the years. In 2015, the prov­ince mused about declar­ing the en­tire prov­ince a wet zone. “The sys­tem of re­strict­ing the per­mis­si­ble lo­ca­tions of li­cences and stores in Nova Sco­tia is out­dated and off­side with how the is­sue is han­dled in other prov­inces,’’ a gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said at the time.

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