Western Nunavut community to vote on opening up alcohol access
Kugluktuk residents will decide whether or not to keep alcohol education committee
Kugluktuk residents will vote next month on whether or not to dump their alcohol education committee.
The vote comes 11 years after, in 2007, residents decided to clamp down on the amount of alcohol flowing into their community by establishing the committee.
An advance vote takes place on Oct. 15 at Kugluktuk Heritage and Visitors centre from 10 a. m. to 7 p.m. and, on the plebiscite day, Oct. 22, the vote takes place at the Community Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Eligible voters must be at least 19 years old.
A 34-signature petition submitted to the Nunavut government by the western Nunavut community of about 1,500 triggered the plebiscite.
Voters will be asked if they would like to switch to an unrestricted system, where only the territory’s general liquor laws apply. The alcohol education committee will be dissolved if more than 60 per cent of those who vote agree.
Currently, residents must ask this committee for approval to bring alcohol into the community. The committee is able to place restrictions on how much individuals may purchase, or may refuse applications.
During the last liquor plebiscite in Kugluktuk in 2014, 410 of those who voted, or 44 per cent voted, said “yes” to keeping the alcohol education committee, and 56 per cent said “no.”
In 2007 a plebiscite created the alcohol education committee when 234 Kugluktuk residents voted “yes” and 120 voted “no” to a question that asked them if they backed the establishment of an alcohol education committee.
About 65 per cent of those who cast ballots said yes, exceeding the 60 per cent threshold needed to establish the committee.
Before that liquor plebiscite of 2007, when there were no limits on the amounts of alcohol that Kugluktuk residents could purchase, it wasn’t unusual to see drunken individuals stumbling down the streets and public yelling matches between intoxicated residents.
At the same time, the police were overwhelmed trying to keep the peace.
But during the summer of 2007, three two-week bans on alcohol led to reductions in the rate of violent crime.
Since its creation in 2007, Kugluktuk’s alcohol education committee has met regularly, with an RCMP member in attendance.
Other communities that still have alcohol education committees, besides Kugluktuk, include Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Repulse Bay, Resolute Bay and Whale Cove.