Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 19, 2012 - 8:30 am

Puvirnituq decides Sept. 19 to lift alcohol restrictions

The yes vote will put bootleggers out of business, mayor hopes

JANE GEORGE
Residents in Puvirnituq are participating in a municipal referendum Sept. 19 on whether to lift restrictions on alcohol in the community. Residents can cast ballots at the municipal office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.(PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Residents in Puvirnituq are participating in a municipal referendum Sept. 19 on whether to lift restrictions on alcohol in the community. Residents can cast ballots at the municipal office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.(PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

(updated Sept. 21, 11:30 a.m.)

KUUJJUAQ — Puvirnituq residents aged 18 or older voted Sept. 19 in a municipal referendum to lift alcohol restrictions in the Hudson Bay community of about 1,700 people.

The vote came after the municipal council voted to adopt a new bylaw that would lift the current buying per-month limits for each person in the community: one 1.17-litre bottle of spirits, such as vodka, and one case of beer.

That bylaw required a municipal referendum for the bylaw to come into effect.

The new bylaw comes into effect Oct. 8.

The mayor of Puvirnituq, Aisara Kenuajuak, said before the election, that he supported the lifting of restrictions on everything except high-proof spirits such as Alcool.

That will continue to be banned, he said.

Kenuajuak said that, in earlier days, when there were no limits on alcohol importation, people drank, but much less than they drink today.

And his hope is that bootleggers in the community who charge $400 for a 1.17-litre bottle that retails for $33.75 in the South and $100 for a $12.75 mickey will leave town. That will put more money into the pockets of residents who now spend too much money on alcohol.

From May to July, police nabbed $16,800 worth of illegally imported alcohol in Puvirnituq, according to information tabled at the recent Kativik Regional Government Council meeting in Kuujjuaq.

They also seized 734 grams of marijuana and 57 vials of hash oil.

The referendum on lifting alcohol limits could mean that the cooperative association in Puvirnituq will open a bar.

As for the argument that retail beer sales in Puvirnituq would increase the level of crime, the Kativik Regional Police Force statistics show that alcohol already fuels a fair amount of mayhem in town.

During the first six months of 2011, 172 out of 236 assaults and two out of eight sexual assaults were alcohol-related. There were also 68 charges for impaired driving.

In a July 2011 referendum, Kuujjuammiut voted 75 per cent in favour of allowing the Fort Chimo Co-op Association to sell beer from its local store.

But that still hasn’t happened. Alcohol continues to be sold at the community’s restaurant, lounge and bar.

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