Baker Lake prepares to vote on alcohol access
Public meeting ahead of Jan. 22 vote was to take place tonight
If you live in Baker Lake and want to learn more about the upcoming liquor plebiscite in your community, make sure you attend an evening meeting on the upcoming vote.
The Nunavut Liquor Commission had planned to hold public meeting from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the community hall to discuss possible changes to the current community liquor status—from a restricted to an unrestricted, or (open,) system—although due to stormy weather that meeting was set to be postponed.
Less than two weeks from now, on Jan. 22, voters in this community of about 2,000 will check a box for “yes” or “no” to this question: “Are you in favour of ending the current system of liquor restriction in Baker Lake and having an unrestricted system where only the general liquor laws of Nunavut apply?”
If 60 per cent or more of the votes cast say “yes,” the current system of liquor restrictions in Baker Lake will be abolished, and the Baker Lake Alcohol Education Committee will be abolished as well.
Under an alcohol education committee, you have to apply to the committee to seek approval to bring liquor into Baker Lake. The committee may place restrictions on the purchase or even deny the application.
Once you have obtained permission from committee members, they fax approval to the Nunavut Liquor Commission and an order may be placed.
If more than 40 per cent of the votes say “no,” the current system of liquor restriction in Baker Lake will continue.
To vote, you have to be a Canadian citizen, 19 years of age as of Jan. 22, and a resident of Baker Lake for the 12-month period prior to Jan. 22.
The advance vote takes place Jan. 15 at the Jessie Oonark Centre from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the voting day slated to take place at the centre Jan. 22, also from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you can’t vote on either of those days, you can obtain a proxy vote from Elections Nunavut at 1-800-267-4394.
Voters in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay came out strongly in 2017 in favour of the establishment of beer-wine stores during May 1 plebiscites in their communities.
These two communities, along with Iqaluit, Taloyoak and Grise Fiord, are now guided only by the general liquor laws of Nunavut with respect to buying alcohol.
Other communities with alcohol committees include Arctic Bay, Cape Dorset, Chesterfield Inlet, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Kugluktuk, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, Repulse Bay, Resolute Bay and Whale Cove.
To trigger a plebiscite, Nunavut’s Finance Department, which oversees the liquor commission, must receive a petition with at least 20 signatures.
But not every plebiscite results in restrictions being lifted. Two years ago, in a liquor plebiscite, voters in Gjoa Haven opted to remain dry.
Gjoa Haven remains one of Nunavut’s six dry communities, where alcohol is completely prohibited. The others include Arviat, Coral Harbour, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung and Sanikiluaq.