A microbrewery might be on the way for Iqaluit, as a group of investors presented their plans for the proposed Nunavut Brewing Company at a city council meeting Tuesday.
Cody Dean and Sheldon Nimchuk, representing the five current investors of the proposed brewery, say that locally-brewed beer could provide both jobs and investment to the territory. Nimchuk said that an initial estimate on what it would take to move into production would be approximately $2 to $3 million.
"We do have some serious investors that believe there is an opportunity," Nimchuk said in his presentation, "and that the benefits of local production could be seen in the years to come."
Nimchuk and Dean acknowledged there is a long way to go before a brewery could open in Iqaluit, particularly because of Nunavut's strict alcohol regulations. The group needs to get city council's approval on an application to Nunavut's liquor board, and then the liquor board would complete public consultation in the community, something Nimchuk says could happen by the fall.
'We are going to be involved in the community'
Both councillors Noah Papatsie and Simon Nattaq said they were in favour of the idea, but that the city needed more facilities to treat alcohol addiction, something that Dean says would be "fitting" for the brewery to support.
"We are going to be involved in the community," said Dean. "I think the perfect place would be in education, that support and awareness for alcohol abuse, and of course promote responsible consumption."
Councillor Terry Dobbin addressed his fellow councillors' concerns about substance abuse issues in Iqaluit during his remarks, where he said comparing beer with hard alcohol is "not really comparing apples with apples.
"Smirnoff is hard liquor, it's heroin," he said. "Whereas beer is almost like marijuana. Marijuana is getting to be legal in a lot of territories."
Both Dean and Nimchuk acknowledged that is was very early on in the group's planning, and that details such as whether the brewery would sell directly to the liquor commission, to local establishments or attempt to create their own beer store were still up in the air.
However, Dean seemed keen about the idea of potentially exporting the product, using Arctic water from Nunavut as a selling point, and potentially flavouring product using local berries.
"To me that's the most exciting part of the whole thing, is taking something from here and sharing it with the world," he said.
Council reserved their decision on the proposal until their next meeting, when the brewery's liquor board application is expected to be presented.