Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Kelowna houseboat company hit with $15K liquor board fine

Fine comes after covert operation was undertaken by the liquor board and the RCMP
The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch imposed the hefty fine against Redd-Op Services Inc, which does business as M.V. The Boardroom

A Kelowna houseboat business has been hit with a $15,000 fine for operating in contravention of its liquor licence this past summer – the second fine the company has received in as many years.

In a recently published decision, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch imposed the hefty fine against Redd-Op Services Inc, which does business as M.V. The Boardroom. The Boardroom is one of two 75-foot houseboats run by Kelowna Cruises out of Kelowna's Downtown Marina.

While the boat carried a food-primary liquor licence, the liquor branch found third-party operators were using the boat as a liquor-primary establishment. The fine imposed is at the higher end of the range of penalties, as it was the company's second similar contravention in the past two years.

The most recent infraction occurred back in June 16, 2023, when two Liquor Board inspectors went undercover, attending a ticketed music event that was hosted on the boat by a third-party. An establishment with a food-primary licence must “operate with a focus on food, not on the sale of liquor.”

But one of the inspectors who attended the event testified at a hearing last month that there was no mention of food availability upon boarding the boat and there were no food menus posted or available.

One of the inspectors said the host of the event “encouraged patrons several times to 'get lit,'” which the inspector said is a “colloquial expression meaning to party and to drink more or to get drunk.”

The inspector said that to get food, he had to ask the cook through the kitchen door, and the only option was a burger platter that was prepared on a hotplate. The kitchen was closed by about 4:30 p.m., despite the boat returning to the dock at 5:45 p.m., while liquor was served until the end of the trip.

In a follow-up investigation, the inspector found 92% of sales from the event came from liquor sales.

The liquor board pointed to the the food-primary licensing, which states in bold: “Applying for a food primary licence and then operating any area of your business as a bar or nightclub circumvents this approval process and is a serious contravention.”

The liquor board has been keeping an eye on the local business for several years. Back in August 2020, an inspector held a “compliance meeting” with the company over concerns about the businesses' operations being contrary to their liquor licence. As a result, the company agreed to include food options on all their late-night cruises that would be available until 10 minutes before the end, and agreed to inquire with the City of Kelowna about a liquor-primary licence and special occasion permits for certain events.

But then in August 2022, a covert operation was undertaken by the liquor board and the RCMP during another third-party operated music event. A $7,000 fine was issued as a result of that investigation for operating outside of their licence.

At last month's liquor board hearing, Michael Reddecliff, majority shareholder of the company and captain of the boat, said he's been operating The Boardroom in the same way for more than 10 years, and he was only told he was not in compliance in 2020. He said after the 2020 meeting, he made changes he thought would bring the operations into compliance. He suggested that compliance with the liquor licence appears to be a matter of opinion and varies among inspectors.

Reddecliff also said he has started an application for a liquor-primary licence, but he's received conflicting information from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. But he says his application has recently been approved by the City of Kelowna, and it's now with the Branch for final approval.

But ultimately, Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch delegate Dianne Flood ruled that because of “past compliance issues and the numerous ways in which the operations failed to meet the standards during this cruise,” she opted to impose the $15,000 fine. The fine must be paid by Feb. 6 of this year.