Summer Events: Alcohol Sale and Consumption

20 July 2017

Canada is globally known as one of the best countries to live, work and play. Its 150th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate everything Canada has to offer. Amidst the celebrations, each event can have a wide range of exposures.

If your event is going to include the sale of alcohol, it is critical that you review your municipal Alcohol Policy. Ensure that your document is up-to-date and satisfies your provincial alcohol and gaming commissions requirements. As a best practice, you should engage a third-party organization to manage this risk. Some municipalities may choose to do this through an existing licensed establishment or through a third-party organization like a not-for-profit community group. In either case, you should collect a certificate of insurance which adds your municipality as an additional insured and clearly shows “alcohol liability” or “host liquor liability” with the list of coverages on the certificate. For events involving alcohol, Commercial General Liability limits should be between CAD $5 million and CAD $10 million depending on the projected size of the event.

A plan outlining a designated area where alcohol is allowed and a system to monitor the presence of minors will help reduce the risks associated with alcohol consumption. Wherever possible, it is recommended to serve all alcoholic beverages in soft containers to avoid broken glass and injury. To prevent over-consumption, it is advised to have different style containers for beer, spirits and wine. It is also important that your organizers ensure that the proper amount of trained security is located at all beer gardens and other areas in which alcohol is served. With respect to documentation, all liquor serving licences should be kept on file. A licence must be in place for any person handling alcohol (this includes stocking fridges).

Other risk management tips for events involving alcohol include:

  • Having options for safe transportation home for event goers who consume alcohol. This could mean working with local taxi companies to ensure that people have access to alternative ways home. Alternatively, you could choose to offer transit fares at a reduced rate on the day of the event. Make sure that transit providers have clear and safe pick-up and drop-off areas around the event.
  • Food options and non-alcoholic beverages should always be available when alcohol is served.
  • It is not recommended to announce a last call. Studies show it increases alcohol consumption rapidly at the end of the night.

A risk management plan is critical to ensure your events are safe and enjoyable for all attendees. For further information on planning and risk review of your special events, please contact Robin McCleave, VP Risk Management on our Public Sector team at

Please note: This insight is merely a guideline. It is neither meant to be exhaustive nor meant to be construed as legal advice. It does not address all potential compliance issues with federal, provincial or local standards. This is published for the benefit of clients and prospective clients of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. It is intended only to highlight general issues relating to the subject matter of interest and does not necessarily deal with every important topic nor cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. If you intend to take any action or make any decision on the basis of the content of this insight, you should first seek specific professional advice.