Measure Iqaluit beer and wine store’s impacts on surrounding communities, Nakashuk urges

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Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk wants the GN to track the effects Iqaluit’s beer and wine store has on neighbouring communities.

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk says the RCMP in her community needs more resources to combat illegal sales of alcohol. photo courtesy of Margaret Nakashuk

“I want to remind the government that although residents of the capital city had the opportunity to vote on this issue, residents of other impacted communities, including Pangnirtung, had no say in the matter before the store was opened,” Nakashuk said in the legislative assembly on Monday.

Finance Minister George Hickes, who is responsible for the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission, said he would speak with officials within his department to figure out how that can be done.

Then he added a caveat: “One of the difficult challenges that, in my discussions with my officials, when we look at alcohol impact in the outlying communities, there’s little information on what types of alcohol are coming in. Typically when we look at binge drinking in communities, it is with spirits or high-alcohol-content beverages.”

The beer and wine store, which opened in September 2017, has prevented consumption of high-alcohol varieties of liquor, Hickes said. After its first year of operation, the store had sold 1.9 million cans or bottles of beer and 190,000 bottles of wine.

“I can say, from an importing permit measurement, there has been a dramatic decrease in
spirits being requested to be brought into the city here in Iqaluit, but I do acknowledge
that there is an offsetting impact in other communities,” said Hickes. I will commit to speaking to my officials on how we can engage outlying communities on some type of measurement on the impact of the beer and wine store. Like I say, just in my first thought, it does promote some challenges on are those spirits or is that beer and wine coming in, but I will obviously also talk to my colleague to see where and how we can engage community members in this review.”

Nakashuk also stated that the Pangnirtung RCMP needs more resources to fight the illegal sale of alcohol.