Dear CAMRA BC members, craft beer-loving public et al:
My name is Jeremy Noonan, and I have the great pleasure of serving as President of CAMRA BC for the 2016-2017 calendar year. Thank you for nominating me and supporting my effort to drive the organization for the coming year!
Our Provincial AGM was held in Victoria on March 19, where this years’ Executive was installed and many of our greatest supporters turned out to be heard. We are thrilled at the efforts many of you went to to be there, and hope to see even more of you next year!
You can find copies of the financial reports and minutes below:
That said, there is so very much to do, and both the BC and Branch Executive teams have our work cut out for us. In 2015, there were many changes to liquor laws impacting all British Columbians in addition to a great deal of activity on a municipal level in many BC communities. This year, I expect there will be even more to contend with. Admittedly, not all of it is bad: we’ve seen some positive changes to some laws, and a number of cities approving breweries with less resistance than in the past.
Not everything is aligned as we feel it should be, however. We are still reeling from a startlingly imbalanced wholesale pricing on craft beer in BC – this affects us directly as consumers making purchases in stores, as well as brewers and distributors who are losing shelf space because increased and arbitrarily skewed prices of their products are selling less and sitting on shelves longer. We have antiquated rules about growler sales outside of breweries. Bizarre perceptions that allowing breweries to open will bring increased crime and alcohol-related violence along with it. Taxation of high-ABV beer that makes it cost-prohibitive to produce – and purchase – these products. The list goes on.
Despite the challenges ahead, let me be very clear when I say that these aren’t grandiose aspirations. You can find successful implementations of many of these things in places like Alberta, as well as an enormous swath of the United States (to say nothing of elsewhere in the world). Make no mistake: this is a true, blue growth industry: as viable and legitimate as forestry, fisheries, agriculture and others. Craft beer isn’t doing irreparable damage to ecosystems or the environment, and it is absolutely sustainable. It is an economic juggernaut that, if harnessed and cultivated in an intelligent and responsible way, could inject a tremendous amount of no-strings-attached revenue into the province of British Columbia.
2016 is a pivotal year in advocating for these things to happen. And advocate, we shall.
- Each community has its’ own roadblocks when it comes to things like having breweries and tasting rooms in their cities. CAMRA BC branches will be working this year to identify these obstacles in their communities. Do you live in a city where breweries have been refused approval to open? We want to know about it – and we’ll work with you to organize and be represented at public hearings on these matters. One of the biggest reasons why municipalities refuse approval for breweries is because they simply don’t know enough about the craft beer ecosystem, how it differs from night clubs and the like – and the hugely positive impact on economy and nearby small business growth/sustainability. Let’s change that perception, and let’s do it together.
- Provincial liquor law reforms are a mixed bag. Some of the changes have been to our benefit. Many have not. We intend to continue pushing hard to on efforts to have these laws tuned in a way that provides economic benefit to the province, but with balance that keeps the market fair for the consumer. This topic is substantial enough to be a post of its’ own, so stay tuned for more on that.
There are other initiatives we intend on pursuing this year, and more information about these will be explored in the coming months. What I will say, is this:
It’s no secret that we lost a lot of member interest in the last two years – largely due to the perception that we’d become more of a “beer club”, and no longer a group that advocates. It pains me to say it, but I completely agree.
We haven’t been the champion of craft beer advocacy in BC for some time.
We have fallen short of the mission that many members had joined us in support of.
We simply. Have. Not. Served you adequately.
That ends right now.
More of your membership money is being directed at advocacy initiatives.
Branches are redoubling their efforts to pursue the interests of their communities.
We are unifying our organization to repair fragmentation.
We are not a beer club that occasionally speaks out.
We are an advocacy group that enjoys a robust community of craft beer consumers.
Proactive first, reactive second. Not the other way around.
I invite you to contact your branch representatives – or the BC Executive team with questions, concerns or with information you feel may be helpful in supporting your communities. Your opinions absolutely matter, and we are incredibly grateful for your support.