Bar operators must strongly 'justify; expansion requests

Liquor board says no to Nova Inn bar expansion

By JOHN BIRD

The prospect of more drinkers at the Nova Inn's Kickin' Caribou Pub is "not in the best interests of the community," the Nunavut Liquor Licencing Board ruled last week.

After a public hearing March 18, the board denied an application by Kim and Donna Waters, who operate the bar, to increase its licensed capacity from 60 to 80 persons.

Bob Long, the chair of the liquor board, said in an interview that "anyone can request a hearing to open or expand a cocktail lounge in Iqaluit."

But before the board says yes to such applications, he said the board must hear strong arguments about why more drinking spaces are needed, and why they will not lead to more alcohol abuse.

While Long said "the inner workings of the board are confidential," he said the board recognizes that many people in Iqaluit are concerned about alcohol abuse.

At the same time, most liquor infractions are related to "cocktail lounges" – places where liquor is served without meals.

He also said that when the Kickin' Caribou Pub's cocktail lounge licence was first issued a year and a half ago, it faced significant opposition from within Iqaluit.

Simon Nattaq opposed the extension at the March 18 hearing. Although Nattaq is a city councillor, he made his comments as a private citizen.

Speaking through an interpreter, he later told Nunatsiaq News, "there's too many places to go drinking already. Why open more?"

The board had already approved structural changes to the lounge last fall, allowing removal of a wall to open a small private dining room and make it part of the lounge area.

The purpose of the change was to provide space for musicians and buffet tables, the board said.

But the renovations also meant the restaurant part of the business – the Waters' Edge Seafood and Steakhouse – lost 12 dining spaces.

The owners later applied to increase the size of the cocktail lounge by 12 seats, the same number that the dining room lost in the renovation.

Then they increased their request to 20 spaces after the fire marshall upgraded the fire-safety capacity of the renovated room from 60 to 80 people.

In denying the second application – for expansion of the cocktail lounge – "the board took into account the fact that the original request for the structural change… was made with the assurance that no increase in licenced capacity was sought," the board said in a news release.

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