At Tuesday’s Iqaluit city council meeting, Coun. Kyle Sheppard said the city could consider a temporary alcohol prohibition if enforcement measures don’t curb public drinking in the community. (Photo by Jeff Pelletier)JEFF PELLETIER

Iqaluit Coun. Kyle Sheppard floated the possibility of imposing a temporary “special” alcohol purchasing and consumption prohibition this summer if nothing is done to stop people from drinking at outdoor public places.

Sheppard mentioned the idea during Tuesday’s council meeting while proposing a motion asking the RCMP to take alcohol away from people who are imbibing in areas like streets and parking lots.

His motion also called on the Government of Nunavut to “contribute to a solution” by helping enforce the Liquor Act.

Councillors voted unanimously in support of the motion. Deputy Mayor Kim Smith and Coun. Harry Flaherty were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“There does not seem to be enough enforcement action being taken to curb this activity,” Sheppard said, remarking on the frequent sight of residents with open beer cans in parking lots and walking down the street.

Coun. Simon Nattaq echoed his support for the motion, noting the numerous empty beer cans littered across Iqaluit.

“They’re even drinking around the streets, especially around Northmart and other stores,” Nattaq said, speaking in Inuktitut through the city hall interpreters.

“Perhaps through this motion, we’ll be able to address it.”

The City of Iqaluit is limited in what it can do to enforce the Liquor Act, Sheppard said, and local bylaw officers don’t have the authority to seize open alcohol — an authority the RCMP does have.

However, Sheppard said, city council has the option to implement a “special” temporary prohibition if it wants to.

“By declaring a ‘special occasion,’ we can prevent the consumption and sale [of alcohol] for two weeks at a time, and we can do that three times,” Sheppard said.

Baker Lake is a recent example of that provision being used.

There, the hamlet council voted to prohibit alcohol for the last two weeks of 2023 and the first week of 2024 to coincide with Christmas and New Year’s.

“I don’t want it to come to that, but we need action to be taken to curb the things that are happening right now,” Sheppard said.

“I think some strict action in this regard, with the seizure of open alcohol, that message gets out pretty quickly.”

Earlier in the council meeting, Staff Sgt. Darrell Gill, Iqaluit RCMP’s detachment commander, presented monthly activity reports for March and April.

Last month was the busiest of the year with 1,002 calls for service, of which 547 involved alcohol.

There were also 65 Liquor Act offences in April, compared to 46 in March.

Sheppard asked Gill if the RCMP would be ramping up alcohol enforcement as the weather gets warmer and people are more inclined to drink outside in public places, especially around the beer and wine store.

Gill said they would, and that officers are doing their best.

“We see it as well, obviously with the amount of people that get arrested,” Gill said.

“We’re going to, certainly, up our patrols in, I guess, the hot areas where we see that activity for sure.”

By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 30, 2024 at 05:35

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunatsiaq News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated