Changes to liquor law address, among other issues, serving hours, wineries and cursing
Steve Barber, owner of Hunter’s Ale House in Charlottetown, has had many nights where he has been forced to turn away tourists, accompanied by children, who were looking to order food after arriving downtown late in the evening. He said liquor regulations on P.E.I. prohibit minors who are accompanied by parents from ordering a meal at bars and restaurants after 9 p.m. and require minors to leave these establishments by 10. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to approach a table and say, ‘folks, it’s a little after 10 p.m. here, I have to ask you to leave,’” Barber said. “In the summertime, that happens probably multiple times a night.” Barber said recent changes made to regulations of the Liquor Control Act, which will allow the cut-off for minors accompanied by parents to order meals to be extended to 2 a.m., are a welcome change. “For us, that’s a huge increase,” Barber said. The changes, which come into effect Saturday, will also allow for a simplified approval process for permitting underage entertainers in licensed establishments. In addition, they will give minors access to these establishments for a wider range of events, such as birthdays, weddings or community fundraisers, as long as they are not consuming alcohol. The changes will also reduce the required acreage on or adjacent to wineries, will reduce the package sales license fee from $50 to $25 and will allow holders of clubs or other establishments to apply for a caterer’s license. The changes will allow licensed establishments to permit patrons to curse without facing sanction. A clause prohibiting “vulgar or profane language” in licensed establishments has been removed, although the regulations still prohibit “disorderly conduct.” The amendments to regulations of the Liquor Control Act were designed to address “a number of simple irritants identified by the community,” according to a statement by Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. Luc Erjavec, vice-president – Atlantic for Restaurants Canada, believes the Island has been progressive in its continual improvements to regulations of the Liquor Control Act. “The government of P.E.I. has clearly recognized the restaurant and bar industry and licensees as an integral part of the business community,” said Erjavec, who was surprised the provision that prohibited “vulgar or profane” language, a legal concern of a bygone era, had remained in the regulations.