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Restaurant, bar to serve booze, room service won't

Nova Inn gets split decision from liquor board

By CHRIS WINDEYER

Iqalummiut will be able to get a drink at the city's new hotel, but guests won't be able to have drinks delivered to their rooms.

The Nunavut Liquor Licencing Board last week granted licenses for the Nova Inn's cocktail lounge, but rejected an application that would have allowed booze to be served in rooms.

A public hearing for a third licence for the hotel's dining room was waived because applicants Kim and Donna Waters requested the cancellation of their existing license at Wizard's Café in Iqaluit. The new business will operate inside the Nova Inn as Waters' Edge Seafood and Steakhouse.

"The board … concluded that the small potential benefit in convenience that a guest room licence might provide was more than offset by the legitimate and heartfelt concerns of the community," said David Wilman, the board's chair, in a news release.

The decision to shoot down the guest room licence was unanimous, he said. It wasn't clear how many of the board's five members voted in favour of the cocktail lounge licence.

Donna Waters said she's "delighted" by the board's decision, including the rejection of the guest room licence.

"We were talking quite seriously about withdrawing it after hearing the concerns of the elders," she said. Waters said her company applied for the guest room license only because they thought Iqaluit's other hotels had similar licences, but then found out that's not the case.

At a public hearing Aug. 22, few speakers had a problem with the sale of booze at the restaurant, but Madeline Redfern of Iqaluit objected to the sale of alcohol to hotel rooms, saying it could lead to predators luring teenaged girls to their rooms and plying them with alcohol.

"You can't control that aspect in a hotel room," Redfern said.

And a steady stream of speakers, mostly elders, opposed the new licences, arguing Iqaluit already has enough places to drink, and one more will increase the amount of violence and abuse in the city.

"We were made not to drink alcohol," said Annie Naujuk. "Qallunaat come here … and impose these things on us."

Others wondered why a restaurant in a brand new hotel like the Nova Inn even needs to sell alcohol to make money.

But elder Celestine Erkidjuk said he's more concerned by drug dealers than licenced establishments that follow the rules. He also said customers themselves have a responsibility not to drink too much.

"There are some people who drink but don't [go out to] get drunk," he said.

Logan said employees will be trained to recognize drunk patrons and will each receive a manual on safe liquor service. Workers will "know their legal responsibilities," Logan pledged.

Donna Waters said 80 per cent of the operation's employees have such training already, while those who don't will get it soon.

She said Aug. 23 the new restaurant and bar could be open as early as this week.

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