Manitoba considering wine bars and beverage rooms with no hotel requirement

WINNIPEG – Manitobans may soon have more places to raise a glass if a bill before the legislature becomes law.

The bill aims to simplify the province’s permit system, with its many categories that require full kitchens for some operators, entertainment for others and on-site hotel rooms for many.

A proposed change would eliminate the need for beverage rooms — a type of license that doesn’t require a full kitchen — to have hotel rooms on the premises. Current rules require a minimum of four bedrooms in smaller communities and 40 in Winnipeg and Brandon.

Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen said he doesn’t know why the requirement was put in place nearly a century ago after Prohibition ended.

“There wasn’t much of a close connection between serving alcohol … and a hotel situation,” Goertzen said Tuesday.

“I don’t think it was expected that…people would need a place to sleep at night.”

The idea was not well received by many hoteliers consulted by the government. They told the provincial regulator – the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Authority of Manitoba – that they had invested a lot of money to meet the hotel room requirement, the authority said. in a written report on its consultations.

The bill would also allow the provincial cabinet to establish new categories of permits. That could pave the way for wine bars at wine shops, Goertzen said. It would also make it easier to obtain a license for temporary outdoor summer bars, called “pop-ups”.

The changes, for the most part, were welcomed by the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association.

The group said competition from new entrants with lower overhead could cause problems, but the overall decision to cut red tape and make it easier to obtain a license for modern alcohol distribution is a big plus. .

“The problem is that these (current) licenses really focus on the business of what they looked like 20 or 30 years ago,” said Shaun Jeffrey, executive director of the association.

Many restaurants could take advantage of the flexible new system to open temporary outdoor bars in the summer, Jeffrey said.

It is unclear when the bill introduced by the Progressive Conservative government could become law. The legislature is expected to end for the summer next week.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 24, 2022.

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