Nunavik patient residence to fight Montreal neighbourhood bar opening
“It was clear that he was following his clientele”
Lawyers representing the Ullivik centre in Montreal are appealing a decision to allow a bar to operate just 600 metres away from the Nunavik patient residence.
Late last month, Quebec’s liquor and gaming commission, the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux, approved a request for an alcohol permit for Resto Bar Archies to open in the basement of a hotel in Dorval.
This decision was made despite opposition from officials with the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, along with the city and Montreal police, who argued that alcohol consumption is a major issue for vulnerable residents staying at the patient residence, located just up the street.
While patients staying at the Dorval residence have access to other bars and places to buy alcohol, opponents allege that this particular bar owner is targeting Nunavik Inuit customers.
Resto Bar Archies’ owner Achillies Vriniotis also owns Bar G.A. at the Alexis-Nihon shopping centre in Westmount. The bar is located just a block away from Ullivik’s predecessor, the YMCA on Tupper St., and attracted Inuit clientele staying at the centre for more than a decade.
“It was clear that he was following his clientele,” said Robert Boyd, a lawyer with the Montreal firm Cain Lamar, which is representing Ullivik in the case.
“We found in a police report that this was his intention.”
Lawyers also said that screen grabs of postings made to Facebook further prove Vriniotis’ plans to attract Inuit customers.
One posting to the Resto Bar Archies page says “All Inuit Welcome.” Another post welcomes customers on a Facebook page called Montreal Inuit Information, which has since been taken down.
The commission decision acknowledged that information, calling it “troubling,” but also noted that Vriniotis’ other establishment, Bar G.A., had a good track record for upholding its liquor licence requirements.
The commission granted the new licence under the condition that Vriniotis not advertise his new business to Inuit.
“We thought it was a clear case where granting a liquor licence was against public interest,” Boyd said. “We were surprised with the decision.”
Boyd said the firm planned to file an appeal on Friday, Aug. 17.
Nunavik health officials have long struggled to find a safe location to house patients visiting the city for medical appointments.
Ullivik’s site was chosen for its proximity to the Montreal airport and its location away from the city centre.
But in its first year of operation, from December 2016 to December 2017, the centre reported 656 incidents of intoxication among escorts and 744 incidents among patients.
In a number of those cases, the consequences have been serious. Last fall, a Nunavik woman died when she fell asleep in the parking lot of a nearby bar and was struck by a truck.
The commission heard about a number of other incidents, in which intoxicated Ullivik patients were seriously injured in vehicle accidents or sexual assaults.
You can read the commission’s French-language decision here.