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"It's 7 p.m.—time to roll up the sidewalks and go home folks, because this party is now over."
February 21, 2010 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Vancouver has long struggled with a reputation as a "No Fun City", largely due to draconian BC liquor laws. Many prohibition-era laws were not repealed until 1999 or later. The struggle to bring fun to the city culminated in the 2010 Olympics; but on Saturday, the fun proved too much for city officials, and police ordered all downtown liquor stores to close at 7pm.

The prohibition was renewed on Sunday, and police claim they will continue to gauge the effect of the early closures to determine if they need to be renewed. Interestingly, "police have sought no similar restriction on alcohol sales in bars and restaurants downtown." It is illegal to consume alcohol in public in BC, under penalty of confiscation and a $230 fine. Public drunkenness is an arrestable offence.
posted by mek (69 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Vancouver has long struggled with a reputation as a "No Fun City", largely due to draconian BC liquor laws.

Yeah, but you have insanely good weed, which helps.
posted by jonmc at 5:07 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well to be fair, Canada is playing USA in hockey tonight. If they win, huge celebration. If they lose, huge disappointment party. Hopefully everything will be back to normal after the Olympics leave town.
posted by beautifulcheese at 5:09 PM on February 21, 2010


It is illegal to consume alcohol in public in BC, under penalty of confiscation and a $230 fine. Public drunkenness is an arrestable offence.

There's 'open container' laws in NYC, too, but the ingenious get around them.
posted by jonmc at 5:11 PM on February 21, 2010


"Closing a few hours early" and "Prohibition" aren't the same thing even a little.
posted by mhoye at 5:15 PM on February 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


When I lived in BC, most liquor stores that seemed to be any more than a decade old had a drive through window. It seems that someone decided that it might be a bad idea to put booze directly into the driver's hand and made that illegal, so it seems these are just decorative now. In BC, you can buy alcohol either at the BC Liquor (provincially run) or any of a large number of private businesses, which compared to Ontario (LCBO, Beer Store and wine shops), is amazing. Some of my favorite beer comes from BC. If their liquor laws were draconian in the prohibition era, they are no longer.

Also: public drunkenness is an arrestable offense in more places than BC.
posted by battlebison at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2010


jonmc: "Yeah, but you have insanely good weed, which helps."

And what consolation prize do we get in Salt Lake City? Fry sauce?
posted by Joe Beese at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Early liquor store closures = people stocking up = more booze on hand than would normally be the case (that is, problem drinkers always always make sure they've got a supply).

If we really wish to avoid a repeat of the STUPIDVILLE INCIDENT of 1994, which is what this is really about, the smart tactic would be to hand out unlimited amounts of free BC Bud. This would be good for both keeping things relatively friendly and mellow, and the restaurant business.
posted by philip-random at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So they're actually more fucked up than Seattle? Good to know.

God I hate North American puritanism.
posted by Artw at 5:18 PM on February 21, 2010


Yeah, the fact that the liquor stores close at the exact time the hockey game ends is clearly intentional.
posted by mek at 5:19 PM on February 21, 2010


If the weird cheering during the curling finals was any indication, there are plenty of ways to get around the ban!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:20 PM on February 21, 2010


Public sobriety has become a serious problem in some suburbs of Brisbane, and also on public transport, where after midnight as many as one person in ten is capable of coherent speech and rational thought. This worries the comprehensively inebriated, and they become violent, unruly, sometimes literally bilious. Happily it has long been custom for the shoes of the person sat opposite to you to be considered a free-access vomitarium, generally followed by the traditional pleasantry of "I will fuckin' smash you you dog." It is things such as this that keep society sliding along, as it were.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:26 PM on February 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Given the historical context of various Stanley Cup riots and other sorts of mayhem, it's probably a good thing they closed the liquor stores tonight.

However, the one thing that irritates me about downtown Vancouver is there are absolutely no cold beer and wine stores. There is the BC Liquor branch on Alberni, and a wine shop on Robson, and I suppose off sales at the Blue Horizon (I've scoped out all the liquor stores), but that's it. I stay overnight in downtown Vancouver at least once or twice a month, and it would be nice to be able to pick up a single can of beer to enjoy in my hotel room.

No fun, indeed.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:26 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


As well, one of the things I love about Japan is beer everywhere: at the supermarket, at the corner store, in vending machines - never more than five minutes away from your door. Such a humane approach to life!
posted by KokuRyu at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The past couple nights at my bar, they've had curling on one of the overhead TV's. I have only the vaguest idea what's going on, but I fing it fascinating after a few bourbon&beers. I predict it will become a US bar game before long.
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2010


It is illegal to consume alcohol in public in BC, under penalty of confiscation and a $230 fine. Public drunkenness is an arrestable offence.

Also true in Pennsylvania, and we have crappy State Stores, and a crazy beer distributorship system.
posted by fixedgear at 5:29 PM on February 21, 2010


"Suppose you land in Vancouver, as seems reasonable. So far not so good. McGoff didn't have much use for modern Vancouver. According to him it has a sort of Pango Pango quality mingled with sausage and mash and generally a rather Puritan atmosphere. Everyone fast asleep and when you prick them a Union Jack flows out the hole. But no one in a sense actually lives there. They merely as it were pass through. Mine the country and quit. Blast the land to pieces, knock down the trees and send them rolling down Burrard Inlet . . . As for drinking, by the way, that is beset," Hugh chuckled, "everywhere beset by perhaps favourable difficulties. No bars, only beer parlours that serve beer so weak no self-respecting drunkard would show his nose in them. You have to drink at home, and when you run short it's too far to get a bottle--"

Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, 1947
posted by kaspen at 5:29 PM on February 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


I knew Vancouver was too good to be true. Beautiful city, nice people, great scenery. Alcohol problems? Restrictions? There's no such thing as paradise, I guess.

(turgid dahlia, at least in Japan, most people are polite enough to get off the train before puking, even if it's the last train of the evening. You just need to be careful about the platform, really.)
posted by Ghidorah at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2010


KokuRyu, there's a nice little wine and beer on Denman (at Nelson, I think, open to 11) and a new BCLC on Robson just before Denman. There's Marquis Wine (no beer) on Davie, a BCLC on Bute at Davie, and another BCLC just west of Cardero on Davie (open 'till 11). Not particularly helpful, but if you even stay closer to the west end...
posted by stray at 5:33 PM on February 21, 2010


Vancouver is on the sea, and gigantic mountains doom above it. Behind the mountains lie other mountains, lies an unknown place, 30,000 miles of mountainous wilderness, the lost land of Columbia where cougars live and black bears. But the city of Vancouver is a quite handsome hellhole. It is, of course, being Canadian, more British than Cheltenham. I spoke last night--or read, I never lecture, how could I?--in front of two huge Union Jacks. The pubs--they are called beer-parlours--serve only beer, are not allowed to have whiskey or wine or any spirits at all--and are open only for a few hours a day. There are, in this monstrous hotel, two bars, one for Men, one for Women. They do not mix. Today, Good Friday, nothing is open nor will be open all day long. Everybody is pious and patriotic, apart from a few people in the university & my old friend Malcolm Lowry--do you remember Under the Volcano--who lives in a hut in the mountains & who came down to see me last night... This afternoon I pick up my bag of soiled clothes and take a plane to Seattle. And thank God to be out of British Canada & back in the terrible United States of America.

Dylan Thomas, writing his wife, 1950
posted by kaspen at 5:35 PM on February 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Joe Beese : And what consolation prize do we get in Salt Lake City?

If you ever hurt yourself and can't get to the phone, you can rest easy knowing the missionaries will come a-knockin' in half an hour or less (or your secret undies come free!)? ;)

Yeah, a friend of mine (normally a pretty heavy drinker) did six months on a contracting job in Utah. Apparently he did the same thing everyone there does - Made a run for the border every weekend and came back well-stocked.

You really have to wonder about the logic of giving up all that tax revenue, but, I suppose we at least can't call them hypocrites for worshiping Mammon over Jehovah...
posted by pla at 5:38 PM on February 21, 2010


I'm pretty sure it's possible to have fun without alcohol.
posted by mpbx at 5:38 PM on February 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


The trick is to have liquor available on a continual basis a la New Orleans, which despite standing head and shoulders above all other US cities in level of violence had a happy time when they won the Stuporbowl.
posted by vapidave at 5:39 PM on February 21, 2010


I'm pretty sure it's possible to have fun without alcohol.

Who let this guy in?
posted by jonmc at 5:40 PM on February 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


KokuRyu, there's a nice little wine and beer on Denman (at Nelson, I think, open to 11)

Ah yes, I remember trekking there from our hotel at Hastings at Thurlow on a Sunday night after the liquor store had closed. Fuck, that took a long time, and as you can tell I still resent it.

It is, of course, being Canadian, more British than Cheltenham.

I think over the last 25 years, Vancouver has shifted from being "more British than the British" to "more eco-Puritan than Gore-Tex"
posted by KokuRyu at 5:40 PM on February 21, 2010


Early liquor store closures = people stocking up = more booze on hand than would normally be the case

Actually Phillip-Random - at least in Australia - that's not exactly true. Here, the data is unambiguously:

Early liquor store closures = less people buying drinks later at night for consumption = less public drunkeness = less fights, vandalism, accidents and arrests, or as Dahlia so beautifully spoke about: getting puked on and beaten up on the bus/bus stop/mall etc. etc.

The data is unequivocal here. It's a problem that Melbourne, in particular is struggling with (grocery stores sell Liquor in Victoria, but not in NSW or QLD - who have their own issues with booze, but not on the same scale/cause).
posted by smoke at 5:44 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is, of course, being Canadian, more British than Cheltenham.

I live in Cheltenham, there are no Brits here. Or Canadians.
posted by fixedgear at 6:00 PM on February 21, 2010


I thought Vancouver and BC were known for their "BC" bud.
posted by djduckie at 6:00 PM on February 21, 2010


Public drunkenness may land you in jail, but judging from the smell when I've passed by the public library downtown, there are other ways to get intoxicated in public that don't seem to be much of a problem.
posted by fnerg at 6:02 PM on February 21, 2010


KokyRyu: "there are absolutely no cold beer and wine stores." There's a cold beer and cold wine store near the Yaletown Brewpub on Hamilton and Helmcken in Yaletown, and similarly one on 12th and Cambie should you be near our City Hall.

I'm sure other Vancouverites will give you more info than stray and I have already provided, these privately held 'cold beer, cold wine' places are numerous downtown and in the 'burbs. Same booze as in the government store (and sometimes some nicer private label BC wines too), with just a small markup more expensive. You just happened to be in a place where there were fewer of them.

As for the 7pm closure, it began on Saturday night and it may continue throughout the Olympics, at the VPD's discretion, should conditions warrant such (a) repeat closure(s).
posted by seawallrunner at 6:12 PM on February 21, 2010


There is a store at Seymour & Smithe. Not too far from Robson Square, really.
posted by maledictory at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


With regard to "oh you can just smoke weed", while yes pot is widespread and of exceptional quality, it is not in any way legal and you can and will still be arrested for its possession and consumption. We like to kid ourselves that our attitudes are so progressive and enlightened, and compared to the relative extremity of the drug war in America, sure, we are better off. But this sense of smugness really stands in the way of true progress. The majority supports legalization, but we placate ourselves thinking we are well enough off already. People's lives are still being destroyed by a justice system that can selectively punish what off the record most everyone laughs off and accepts as innocuous, and we do those rotting in jail no favours pretending it is otherwise.
posted by kaspen at 6:17 PM on February 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


In Winnipeg the net effect of expensive liquor and weed with limited availability for both has been an increase in sales of aerosol products.
posted by vapidave at 6:22 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the weird cheering during the curling finals was any indication, there are plenty of ways to get around the ban!

God, those embarrassingly ignorant dumbass shitheads are making it almost impossible to watch the curling; VANOC should have borrowed some 'Quiet Please' signs from the PGA.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:31 PM on February 21, 2010


I'm pretty sure it's possible to have fun without alcohol.

BURN THE HERETIC
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on February 21, 2010


increase in sales of aerosol products.

Please tell me you don't mean that people are huffing to replace weed or beer.
posted by telstar at 6:34 PM on February 21, 2010


I was jogging on the seawall in False Creek a couple of years ago and the guys jogging in front of me stopped to smoke a joint. They seemed to be having fun.

I work around Gastown at night. It's been a bit of a powder keg lately, so I can't blame the cops for wanting to restrict access to booze in the core. There's a lot of people here who can't hold their booze, and Vancouver has a history with crowds and violence. It's a bit rowdy here at the best of times.
posted by showmethecalvino at 6:43 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: if you're staying at Hastings and Thurlow, you can: Alternately, just call a meetup the next time you're in town and we'll make sure you don't need to go to a liquor store.
posted by heeeraldo at 6:47 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Turgid Dahlia and smoke aren't kidding. In NSW the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) have made a number of studies of patterns in time of day, accessibility of liquor outlets and rates of violent assault.

On accessibility (PDF) of liquor outlets:
For LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney, a very strong positive correlation was found between outlet density and alcohol sales respectively and both were found to predict rates of assault. This effect held up even after statistically controlling for various sociodemographic factors.
And on the time of day (PDF):
the percentage of alcohol-flagged assault incidents increase substantially between the hours of 6.00 pm and 3.00 am, peaking between midnight and 3.00 am. The
percentage of alcohol-flagged offensive behaviour incidents follows a similar pattern, with an increase in reports between 6.00 pm and 6.00 am and a peak between midnight and 3.00 am.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Please tell me you don't mean that people are huffing to replace weed or beer."

I wish I wasn't.
posted by vapidave at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2010


Well, we just lost the hockey game.
posted by stray at 7:09 PM on February 21, 2010


Ha! Suck it, boorish and smug countrymen!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:12 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: a couple more downtown cold beer & wine stores that no-one else seems to have mentioned...

Jimmy's at the corner of Robson & Homer (in the Westin Grand.)
The Moda Hotel (Seymour & Smithe) has a cool CB&W that stocks all sorts of interesting microbrew stuff.

There also used to be a CB&W on Drake between Granville and Howe - 10 years ago when I first came here it was the *only* one downtown (actually I was pretty annoyed with my co-workers that they waited 3 weeks to tell me about it, bear in mind that BCLC used to close at 6pm back then.) It may not be there anymore because I think they just demolished the hotel it was part of, to make way for condos.
posted by pascal at 7:16 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


5-3! I will drink for you sober Vancouverites.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:21 PM on February 21, 2010


there aren't many, and I am not among them.

also, I feel like we could almost lead a walking tour of downtown liquor stores at this point.
posted by heeeraldo at 7:25 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


For LGAs [local government areas] in Sydney, a very strong positive correlation was found between outlet density and alcohol sales respectively and both were found to predict rates of assault.

Why is it that I can go watch cherry blossoms with 10,000 other people in Ueno Park and chug vodka (shochu) and people end up singing and dancing and hugging, yet in Aus or Canada or the UK people revert into a violent reenactment of the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:04 PM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know... on Canada day, I always feel a strong malevolent vibe from revellers, like there's violence just, just, under the surface, waiting to come out. I didn't sense it in LA on the 4th. It creeps me out and I'm always kinda thankful that there isn't more booze around.
posted by klanawa at 8:28 PM on February 21, 2010


eco-Puritans. Too funny!

I'm the first one to cry NANNY STATE! However, given the influx of people, including those from the suburbs who've come to party - you don't want a riot to break out because of a few jarheads who get angry on liquor and stir up trouble.

When a whole country isn't used to it, it's like teenagers getting their first taste of likker, they just don't know moderation. The pukers in New Orleans? Tourists. Same goes for the tourists at the all inclusive warm climate all you can eat and drink resorts - pikers. Asleep by 4pm.

I did find it odd that the Canadian gold medal skeleton winner Jon Montgomery is being interviewed on CTV with a jug of beer in hand walking around in Whistler, while folks drinking booze out of slurpee cups on Robson in downtown Vancouver were arrested. The light pole climbing guy too.

Is it because it's such a young nation? I say Puritans.

Brodeur's style isn't cutting it. Too busy pushing and shoving the screeners, he should just command his space and focus on the puck. Great game USA, Ryan Miller was awesome! Hello, Luuuu!
posted by alicesshoe at 8:44 PM on February 21, 2010


"Please tell me you don't mean that people are huffing to replace weed or beer."

I wish I wasn't.


It's clear that we're talking about completely different segments of society here.
posted by davey_darling at 8:44 PM on February 21, 2010


There are 15 private licensees in the downtown core affected by this order. And word is that it will be in effect for the balance of the games. So do your drinking on the skytrain on your way in.

And is downtown burning yet?
posted by Keith Talent at 8:50 PM on February 21, 2010



Maybe it would help if Tom Brokaw explained it for you.

From the comments: "Aw its like their our little brother or sister :) I like Canada their just so...Canadian"
posted by sneebler at 8:51 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's another BC Liquor store on Pacific on the other side of Davie from the Roundhouse.

And yeah, I get why they've been closing at 7 after seeing what comes out of Yaletown Live every night for the past week. Heck, prior to 7, what sells out every night I've been in there this week are the hip flasks people are sneaking into the nearby venues.
posted by bonehead at 9:08 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is it that I can go watch cherry blossoms with 10,000 other people in Ueno Park and chug vodka (shochu) and people end up singing and dancing and hugging...?

Because shochu is such weak sauce? ;-)
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:41 PM on February 21, 2010


We're talking about a city that's never had a crowd bigger than 150,000 before and is currently under the scrutiny of the world. Buy early, go to a bar and give 'em a break.
posted by furtive at 9:58 PM on February 21, 2010


There also used to be a CB&W on Drake between Granville and Howe

I dunno about that one, but there's one on Granville between Drake and Davie, which is pretty much the same thing.
posted by Dr. Send at 10:31 PM on February 21, 2010


I wanted to buy a nice bottle of B.C. wine to take back to my hotel room tonight and got to the wine store on Water St. at ... 7:05.
posted by stargell at 10:44 PM on February 21, 2010


A quick look out my window shows no flames rising from downtown quite yet, so I'm guessing that it's more or less safe at this point. And while the Canadian team may have lost the hockey game, we are currently first in ice dancing! I suggest cocktails for all!
posted by jokeefe at 11:13 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And the whole "no fun city" thing was pretty much a ploy for the bar owners along Granville to turn the entire street into a frathouse nightmare every Saturday night, as far as I can tell.
posted by jokeefe at 11:14 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Canadian team may have lost the hockey game, we are currently first in ice dancing

Be sure to mention that to the drunk and dispirited hockey fans. It'll surely cheer them up.
posted by ryanrs at 11:35 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Great game USA, Ryan Miller was awesome!"

The second part is certainly true and Brodeur was off a bit but probably 2/3 of the game was played in the US end and the game had the intensity of the last three minutes of a close game in each of the three periods. I think that this loss might actually be helpful for the Canadian team in the long run as a bit of a slap to wake them up. If I was a gambling man I'd bet it all on Canada in the Canada v Germany game (no matter the spread) that will take place on Tuesday. Germany will be quite unkindly dismissed.
I'm native to the US but in this instance - Go Canada!

"...we are currently first in ice dancing! I suggest cocktails for all!"

It would take several for me to even entertain the possibility of watching such a horror. :)
posted by vapidave at 3:22 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awww, Vancouver's discovering what happens when you mix sports fans and booze. Take it from a Bostonian: ahh fahhhk, let's tip ovahh a cahhh! YANKEES SUCK.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:17 AM on February 22, 2010


How do the police have the power/authority to order a privately owned business operating legally to shut down early? WTF?
posted by sotonohito at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2010


Awww, Vancouver's discovering what happens when you mix sports fans and booze.

The difference is, most cities riot when their team WINS the big game. Vancouver goes postal after the BIG LOSS (or when the "pigs" bust a marijuana smoke-in).

In defense of actual Vancouverites (ie: people who live within the city boundaries), I believe most of those arrested during the '94 riot were in fact "Hoons from the suburbs" (to quote the guy who lives upstairs).
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2010


they don't; my understanding was that they went to the Liquor Control and Licensing Bureau (Board? Branch? I can't remember.) which is part of the provincial government who then leaned on said licensees in the name of public safety.

I'm in the BC Media Centre today, will see if I can harass someone into answering.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:05 AM on February 22, 2010


It's a power of the Liquor Control and Licensing Board, which the police requested the use of:

Section 23 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act empowers the branch to temporarily suspend or impose conditions on a licence for up to 24 hours in the public interest.
posted by mek at 10:54 AM on February 22, 2010


mek Thanks.
posted by sotonohito at 6:48 AM on February 23, 2010


The interesting part of that is that it can apparently be used without limit, justification, or recourse; it just needs to be renewed daily. Another archaic bit of law.
posted by mek at 10:31 AM on February 23, 2010


I can happily report that the boozeries were open until 11 last night, so I was able to get my nice bottle of B.C. pinot noir.
posted by stargell at 3:59 PM on February 23, 2010


Emergency shipment of condoms headed to Olympic athletes
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on February 26, 2010


Not a surprise:

Vancouver police said on Saturday the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch would assist in closing stores at 2 p.m. on Sunday. “With the largest crowds to date predicted to take in the Canada-U.S.A. gold medal hockey game in the downtown core, police will be closely monitoring the celebrations and enforcing liquor laws,” said a statement released by police to media. This most recent round of closures are the earliest in the city's history.
posted by mek at 1:06 PM on February 28, 2010


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