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Owner of Inuvik's Mad Trapper bar defends his pitch to open on more Sundays

The owner of Inuvik’s Mad Trapper bar defended his pitch to open 26 Sundays a year in the face of some strong opposition at a public meeting Wednesday.

'Don’t blame Rick Adams at the Mad Trapper' for Inuvik’s alcohol problems, says bar owner to emotional public

Rick Adams addresses a public meeting on his proposal to open 26 Sundays a year - 16 more than the 10 Sundays he is currently allowed to operate. (Mackenzie Scott)

The owner of Inuvik's Mad Trapper Bar, Rick Adams, defended his pitch to open his bar 26 Sundays a year in the face of some strong opposition at a public meeting Wednesday night.

"We are missing the boat in Inuvik. We are suffering economically, everybody knows that," Adams told about 50 residents and members of town council.

He said allowing the bar to open on Sundays from April to September means he can take full advantage of tourist season, one of the few options in the depressed town since oil and gas development dried up.  

Last year, Adams asked Inuvik's town council to let him open every Sunday, plus Good Friday. After a public meeting where the overwhelming majority spoke against the idea, council voted it down.

Now, Adams is back with an amended plan — but so are his opponents.

"What do we stand for as a community?" Pastor Dave Dekwant asked the meeting. "We are trying to educate, we are trying to promote this community, we are trying to build people and unfortunately, alcohol is not one of those building blocks."

The pastor of Lighthouse Community Church also raised concerns about the combination of more Sunday openings and the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, which is due to open at the end of the year.

"When the road is open, what's going to happen? Are people going to be driving back between all hours of the night? It's not worth a life, it's only a drink."

More than 15 speakers opposed to Sunday openings shared their stories of battling addiction and witnessing its impact on their parents' and children's lives.

Adams said he felt his bar is one of the most strictly regulated businesses in town, and should not be blamed for community members' issues with alcohol.

"We don't want to see one child, one life wasted on alcohol, I certainly don't," Adams said. "That's why I'm there until four o'clock in the morning making sure every single patron is home safely. I believe in the regulations, I believe in this community."

Resident Paul Konaromi spoke up in support of Adams.

"Yes, there are horrible problems with alcohol in this community, in the Beaufort Delta region, the territories and basically anywhere. But one establishment is not the reason for that. It's a much larger issue that we need to address."

Brian McDonald, co-owner of Alestine's restaurant in Inuvik, said more choice for customers is good.  

"We have people come into the restaurant. We serve them on a Sunday. They ask if there's anywhere they can go. We say no," he said. "It's nice for tourists to have that alternative if they want."

Some people suggested the Mad Trapper should start serving food as a condition of selling alcohol on Sundays.

"If this gentleman maybe would put in a full restaurant in this building he would be able to get a different type of licence and be open Sundays because he would be serving food as well," said resident Greg Murphy, "because we really don't need a day in this community where nothing but liquor is sold."

Adams, who got so frustrated over the opposition he tried to sell his bar last year, urged town council to rethink the issue.

Council will make a decision on Adams' request on Monday.

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