INFORMATION BULLETIN – No. 22 

Effective June 1, 2011 and August 2, 2011 

The Government of Ontario has made several amendments to Regulation 389/91 (Special Occasion Permits) under the Liquor Licence Act. These changes are being introduced following extensive consultation with a wide range of liquor industry stakeholders, law enforcement agencies, public health organizations and other interested parties and are intended to: 

  • Remove some previous barriers and restrictions for special events and festivals
  • Provide flexibility to businesses
  • Improve tourism and local economies
  • Strengthen Ontario’s economy and create new opportunities for jobs
  • Expand enforcement options where violations of Ontario’s liquor laws occur. 

The changes will be complemented by compliance provisions that ensure that alcohol continues to be sold and served responsibly at these events. These include the ability of the Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming (Registrar) to add conditions to a Special Occasion Permit (SOP) to mitigate identified risks to public safety, and to issue Orders of Monetary Penalty to SOP holders.

The regulatory changes affecting the Special Occasion Permit (SOP) program will be introduced in three phases. The changes coming into effect in the near term on June 1, 2011 and August 2, 2011 are outlined below. The government is also reviewing many other options to further streamline and simplify the SOP program, and these changes will be introduced in July 2012. 

For more information on regulatory amendments affecting the Special Occasion Permit program, please visit the AGCO website at www.agco.on.ca, or contact the AGCO Customer Service Department at 1-800-522-2876 (toll free in Ontario) or 416-326-8700 (in the Greater Toronto Area). 

HIGHLIGHTS

Changes to Regulation 389/91 effective June 1, 2011

“Public Event” Special Occasion Permit
A new type of special occasion – “Public Event” – replaces three types of special occasions (Fundraisers, Significant Event, Community Event) for which a Special Occasion Permit may be issued. A Public Event is one which is conducted by a registered charity or not for profit entity or an event of municipal, provincial, national or international significance. In order to be eligible for an SOP, Public Events which are not conducted by a registered charity or not for profit entity must be designated as an event of municipal significance by the municipality in which the event is to take place.

Notification to municipalities for outdoor events
For outdoor events, the applicant must provide written notice at least 30 days before the event to the clerk, police, fire and health departments of the municipality in which the event is to take place. The previous notification period was 21 days before the event.

Tiered Seating
Applicants can now apply for a Special Occasion Permit for a premises with fixed tiered seating or temporary tiered seating (i.e. bleachers).

Primary Use
To qualify for a Special Occasion Permit, the primary business of a premises no longer has to be the sale and service of liquor and food. However, an adequate supply of food must be available for those attending the event.

Hours of Sales and Service
Except for New Year’s Eve (December 31), the hours for the sale and service of liquor under an SOP may be between 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. the following day. On New Year’s Eve (December 31), the hours for the sale and service of liquor under an SOP are 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on the next day (January 1).

Designate on a permit
A permit holder has always been able to designate someone to attend the SOP event in his/her place, however a letter is no longer required to advise of the designation. The permit holder and designate simply both must sign the permit.

Posting the permit and levy receipt
The permit and levy receipts no longer have to be posted at the event, but must be available for AGCO Inspectors and police. 

Conditions on an SOP
Depending on the nature of the event and/or the compliance history of the permit holder, the Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming may impose conditions on a Special Occasion Permit.

Types and quantities of liquor
A permit holder is no longer restricted to selling or serving certain amounts or types of liquor.

Record of food purchased
Permit holders no longer have to keep a record of food purchased for an SOP event.

Monetary Penalties for SOPs
Special Occasion Permit holders may be assessed monetary penalties for breaches of the Liquor Licence Act and regulations.

Change to Regulation 719 (Licences to Sell Liquor) effective June 1, 2011

Outdoor SOP Holders May Now Enter Into Agreement With Liquor Sales Licensees
If a Special Occasion Permit has been issued for an outdoor event that has both licensed areas (bars, restaurants, etc.) and areas to which the SOP applies (i.e. the street on which the event is taking place), patrons can move freely between these areas with a single serving of alcohol, under certain conditions and where permission has been granted by the Registrar of Alcohol and Gaming.

Changes to Regulation 389/91 effective August 2, 2011

Notification to municipalities for outdoor events
An applicant for a Public Event SOP must provide 30 days notice to the AGCO and local municipality (including clerk, police, fire and health departments) for events where fewer than 5,000 people are expected to attend, and 60 days notice to the AGCO and local municipality (including clerk, police, fire and health departments) for events where 5,000 or more people are expected to attend.

Line of Business: 
Number: 
22