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Pique'n Yer Interest

Loosen up, B.C.

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All these organizers wanted was a contained area where people could drink - and maybe choose wine or a cocktail instead of a beer or cooler - with a few minors present. It's really no different from what happens at the average wedding, or at the Canucks game or in any given backyard on a Saturday afternoon.

But, out of concern that a youth could obtain some alcohol at one of these events - and then proceed to crash a car, rape somebody or nearly die from alcohol poisoning (that's actually the BCLC's stated position) - the licences were refused.

It's ridiculous. Any kid at a jazz festival or road ride party is obviously going to be there with parents, and while some parents do tolerate teens drinking in moderation at home they would never permit it in public, or to the point of intoxication where any of the BCLC's concerns could be valid.

I've always believed we've treated alcohol the wrong way in Canada, and that we do more damage by elevating alcohol to "taboo" status. The truth is, kids will always get a hold of booze - always.

Given that reality, it's my view that kids should probably learn to drink responsibly, at home with a few glasses of wine or the occasional beer, with parents around to warn them of the dangers of binge drinking. There's a skill to drinking responsibly and I'd rather my own child learn it with me than through trial and error on her own at any age.

We should demystify it, take the romance out of it, shrug it off as something that people do sometimes. Teens may lack judgment but their bullshit detectors are very acute when it comes to propaganda on the evils of alcohol. "In Europe," a Croatian-Canadian friend of mine once observed, "beer is a drink. You might grab a Fanta at the bodega or you might grab a can of beer. It's no big deal. We're so immature about it."

At the Squamish Music Festival there were 16,000 concert-goers over two days and just five arrests involving people that drank too much. That's a rate of 0.03 per cent, a number that the province really should take into consideration.

The bottom line is that we have to get some sanity back into liquor licencing if we're serious about making B.C. a world-class international destination - or take special occasion licencing away from BCLC entirely and leave those decisions to municipal governments.

I'm not saying people can't have fun at the jazz festival or at GranFondo without alcohol, just that people should have the freedom to choose what kind of fun they'd like to have. We're all adults here. Right?