Nunavut’s Baker Lake says yes to unrestricted alcohol purchases

Voters choose to dump local alcohol committee


Eligible voters in Baker Lake have decided to lift liquor restrictions in their community of about 2,000. (FILE IMAGE)

Eligible voters in Baker Lake have decided to lift liquor restrictions in their community of about 2,000. (FILE IMAGE)

Voters in Baker Lake came out 60.1 per cent in favour of changing their community’s liquor laws in their Jan. 22 plebiscite, Elections Nunavut announced shortly after 9 p.m. central time Thursday, two hours after the polls closed in the Kivalliq community of about 2,000.

That one-tenth of one per cent in the numeral that follows the period in “60.1” represents one vote cast in favour of lifting liquor purchasing restrictions.

That puts the plebiscite result over the 178-vote—or 60 per cent—threshold required by Nunavut legislation to change the liquor regulations in any community.

In the plebiscite, 298 votes were cast—representing 32 per cent of the eligible voters over the age of 19. Of these, 119 voted against change. Four ballots—which must have been well-scrutinized in the final tally—were discarded.

The result means that people in Baker Lake will now be subject only to the general liquor laws of Nunavut.

Their alcohol education committee, which used to look at all liquor purchase applications, will be abolished.

So if you live in Baker Lake, you’ll be able to order alcohol the same way that people do in Rankin Inlet, Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit, Taloyoak and Grise Fiord.

The question voters answered in the Jan. 22 plebiscite was: “Are you in favour of ending the current system of liquor restriction in Baker Lake and having an unrestricted system where only the general liquor laws of Nunavut apply?”

“The residents of Baker Lake have spoken,” said Nunavut’s finance minister David Akeeagok Jan. 25. “In order to accommodate this plebiscite result, the Government of Nunavut will move forward with making the necessary regulatory changes in the near future.”

Until those changes are made, the Baker Lake Alcohol Education Committee is still responsible for the approval of liquor sales in the community, he said.

To trigger a liquor plebiscite, Nunavut’s finance department, which oversees the liquor commission, must receive a petition with at least 20 signatures.

Not every plebiscite results in restrictions being lifted. Two years ago, in a liquor plebiscite, voters in Gjoa Haven opted to remain dry.

Gjoa Haven remains one of Nunavut’s six dry communities—where alcohol is completely prohibited. The others are Arviat, Coral Harbour, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung and Sanikiluaq.

Other communities that still have alcohol committees include Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Kugluktuk, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Repulse Bay, Resolute Bay and Whale Cove.

Share This Story

(0) Comments