Over the last few months we have received many questions about the new liquor legislation. Below are the questions we feel are of public interest, and our responses.
I love the new bring-your-own-wine idea. Will I be able to take wine to any restaurant?
You will only be allowed to take wine to a licensed restaurant that has a BYOW extension. Not all restaurants are licensed, and not all licensed restaurants will have this extension. It will be your responsibility to find out which restaurants are approved.
Why canít I bring my homemade wine to a restaurant?
You cannot bring homemade wine to a licensed restaurant with a BYOW extension because the licence holder will have no way of confirming the alcohol content of your wine. Because the licence holder is responsible for ensuring that you do not become intoxicated, it would be unfair to ask him or her to monitor your consumption of unknown liquor.
Do I need a permit to make my own wine or beer?
No. As long as you make wine and beer in a residence, not in a business, you do not need a permit.
If my husband and I order a bottle of wine at a restaurant and donít finish it all, can we take the rest home?
Yes, but the following restrictions apply:
- You must be in a licensed restaurant. Re-corking of wine is not permitted in bars or other types of licensed premises.
- You must have partially consumed the wine with a meal. License holders will not be allowed to re-cork your wine unless you have had a meal.
- Your server must place a cork in the bottle so the cork is flush.
- If the wine bottle cannot be re-corked (e.g. the cork wonít fit), you cannot take the wine out of the premises.
- If you plan to drive, you will need to transport the re-corked wine in the trunk of your vehicle or out of armís reach of any of the vehicleís passengers.
Licensed restaurants are required to re-cork wine. Isnít it asking a lot to make these businesses buy an expensive corking machine?
Corking machines are available from local grocery stores and wine supply stores for about $15. We believe this cost is reasonable given the safety benefits of having people be responsible about their consumption.
Can I place an order with the liquor store and have it delivered to me?
Yes, but with restrictions. We do not have room to list them all, but the key ones are as follows:
- No deliveries to a purchaser who is located in the same community as the liquor store sending the order;
- No deliveries to a dry community;
- Delivery amounts must not exceed the allowable limit in a restricted community;
- The liquor store, not the customer, will make the delivery arrangements;
- The customer must comply with requests made by the liquor store, including requests to submit identification; and
- The customer commits an offence if he or she provides false information on a liquor order.
Is it possible to commercially manufacture liquor in the NWT?
Yes. Commercial manufacturers are required to meet all federal and territorial eligibility requirements to apply for a manufacturing licence. Once licensed, the manufacturer will be required to comply with regulations pertaining to product quality, volume of production, packaging, marketing, and reporting Ė to name a few.
Why does a Public Health Officer have any say about occupancy in a bar?
The Public Health Act requires an eating or drinking establishment to have enough washrooms for its patrons. The Public Health Officer checks how many washrooms are in a bar and then gives his or her recommendation about occupancy.
Why are RCMP and firefighters allowed to apply for a liquor licence for their mess halls/canteens? We don't want these people drinking on the job.
The purpose of a licensed mess/canteen is to allow those who work in public protection to enjoy an off-duty drink out of the public eye. Because of the nature of their jobs, these individuals are often unfairly expected to be "on-duty" at all times. It is difficult for them to relax and enjoy a few drinks in a restaurant or bar without public scrutiny or public expectation of their services.
The licensed mess/canteen must abide by the same rules as other licensed premises. They may not over-serve their members, serve minors, or promote over-consumption, and they face strict penalties for doing so.
While the Liquor Act does not specifically prohibit consumption by on-duty emergency workers, there are other statutes and policies that protect the public in this way. For example, the federal RCMP Act prohibits consumption of liquor by RCMP members who are on-duty. As well, the Motor Vehicles Act prohibits the operation of vehicles by an impaired driver, and there is case law that on-duty emergency workers who are intoxicated are subject to civil liability.
There are certain times when an applicant for a liquor licence must place a notice in the local newspaper. When this is required, that person should also notify the community council about their application.
Good suggestion. This requirement has been included in the regulations.
My wife and I run a bed & breakfast. We would like to be able to sell our guests a glass of wine in the evenings. Is this possible under the new Act?
Yes, if you meet the eligibility requirements. As a start you need to meet all of the criteria listed in the new Act , subsection 5(1). Other requirements, such as a minimum number of rooms and a business licence, are also listed in the regulations.
Communities are able to make bylaws concerning some aspects of licensed premises. Does this mean bylaw officers have become liquor inspectors?
Yes and no. If a licensed premises bylaw is enacted, bylaw officers have the powers of a liquor inspector to inspect licensed premises - but only related to the matter in the bylaw. Bylaw officers cannot inspect licensed premises for any other matter. These inspections will continue to be done by liquor inspectors.
The reason for this is the need for consistency. Except for the 4 or 5 matters that may be governed by community bylaws, liquor regulations apply equally to licensed premises across the NWT and need to be enforced in a consistent manner.
If a plebiscite question is not successful, how long must a community wait before holding another plebiscite with the same question?
There are three types of liquor plebiscites, with different waiting periods:
- Plebiscite to change a community to prohibited, restricted or open - the Liquor Act gives no specific waiting period, except to say that plebiscites are conducted at the discretion of the Minister of Finance (the Minister of Finance is responsible for the Liquor Act ).
- Plebiscite to allow the first licence of a particular class - must wait 3 years
- Plebiscite to close an entire class of liquor licences - must wait 4 years
How much notice does the public need before a liquor plebiscite is held?
There is no specific notice period in the Liquor Act. This would therefore be at the discretion of the Minister.
Under the new Act, the question on a plebiscite passes with a majority vote. Is that a majority of residents in the community, or a majority of people who voted?
A majority means 50 percent plus 1 of all persons who vote.
Can communities make a bylaw that staggers the hours of licensed premises?
No. Any community bylaw related to operating hours must apply equally to all licence holders within a particular class of licence. This makes the operating conditions fair for everyone and does not favour one bar over another.
Giving communities the power to make bylaws about bars is off-loading a responsibility that should belong to the government, wouldn't you say?
During the 2005 Liquor Act Review, community governments repeatedly told us that they wanted more input into and responsibility for how licensed premises are run in their communities. They said the one-size-fits-all approach that currently exists is inappropriate. The idea of community bylaws was introduced to give communities more control. Granted, this will be more work for communities, but if communities choose not to implement this option, the liquor regulations are written in such a way that the system defaults to the current situation.