Residents of Tuktoyaktuk vote to lift community restrictions on beer and wine
The N.W.T. community imposed restrictions on alcohol possession in 2009
Residents of Tuktoyaktuk should soon be able to bring an unlimited supply of beer and wine into the community after a plebiscite Monday in favour of lifting restrictions in place since 2009.
The plebiscite was held at the same time as elections for mayor and council.
"There was some talk about the effectiveness of the liquor restrictions when it comes to beer and wine," said Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuktoyaktuk.
"We held a community meeting, and the majority of the people at the community meeting were in favour of lifting those restriction for beer and wine."
Of 575 people on the list of voters, 168 voted for the restrictions to be lifted, while 76 opposed. Two ballots were spoiled.
In 2009, hamlet residents voted in favour of alcohol restrictions. Since then, the limit has been a 1.4 litre bottle of hard alcohol and 24 beer, or an equivalent combination of beer, wine and hard liquor. Limits on hard alcohol will remain.
Nasogaluak said residents believe this change will lead to more responsible drinking.
"Some of them believe that it was causing some binge drinking … they said it would be easier on the community if we lifted the beer and wine [restrictions]."
Sophie Stefure, a resident of Tuktoyaktuk, voted in favour of the restrictions being lifted.
"I don't think people should be limited on what they're allowed to drink or how much," she said. "Liquor is legal in Canada, and why should we be limited based on where we live."
Right now the closest liquor store for residents is in Inuvik, about 137 kilometres away.
Stefure says the hamlet should consider opening their own liquor store "since that money will go into the community's pockets."
Stefure, who is also the youth coordinator at the Jason Jacobson Youth Centre, said she's not much of a drinker but is hopeful that by lifting beer and wine limits, bootleggers will lose money.
She also says this may make a difference with how young adults view drinking.
"They are not learning how to drink socially and this might change that. They might have the chance to learn, we don't have to race to the finish the bottle right away to get our fair share."
There is no date set for when the restrictions will officially be lifted — legislative changes are necessary first — but Nasogaluak expects it will happen sometime early in 2018.
Until then, existing laws remain in effect.