07/25/2014 04:01 EDT | Updated 09/24/2014 05:59 EDT

B.C. Happy Hour Changes Lower Price Minimums For Pitchers

Pitcher of cold beer
Pitcher of cold beer
VICTORIA - The British Columbia government is taking a second shot at putting the happy back in happy hour.

Bar owners and some drinkers complained the Liberal government got the mix wrong when changing some of the rules to allow for cheaper drinks during happy hours.

Bar owners said prices actually had to be increased to meet government serving minimums.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said Friday the government's latest attempt to please drinkers and bar owners is a new price category for pitchers of draft beer and cider that drops the minimum price for a jug to $12 from $15.

"Our government heard from the public and licensees, as well as through the media, that our initial minimum pricing for draft beer did not align with consumers' expectations," she said in a statement. "We agreed to adjust pricing in a way that better balances the expectations of consumers with the views of businesses and health and safety groups."

Anton said the minimum price for 50-ounce or above pitchers of draft and cider includes a new minimum price of 20-cents an ounce, while hardball liquor drinks will be $3 an ounce minimum.

Liberal MLA John Yap, the parliamentary secretary for the government's liquor policy reform, said the original happy hour minimums introduced last month were not on par with expectations, with both customers and businesses expressing concerns.

He said the changes are a fair compromise that allow businesses to offer lower prices to customers without watering down health standards.

B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association spokesman Ian Tostenson said the new price minimums now have the support of his organization.

"The government did the right thing by listening," he said. "The $15 minimum was too high, especially when we had some places with a $13 minimum.

Tostenson said $12 minimum pitchers of draft beer will cater to sports teams and larger groups of people.

"Most people in groups order pitchers," he said. "It's a social thing."

So far 17 of the 73 recommendations from the B.C. liquor policy review have been implemented.

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