Lorne Kusugak, minister responsible for the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Board, said he would be meeting with local representatives in Rankin Inlet to discuss the beer and wine store. Stewart Burnett/NNSL file photo Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Lorne Kusugak, minister responsible for the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Board, mused in the legislative assembly about whether Rankinmiut would take their vote back on the beer and wine store.

“I see the real concerns in our community,” he said, answering a question from Alexander Sammurtok, MLA for Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet Wednesday, May 24.

“I live in Rankin Inlet and I see the impacts that these alcohol facilities have. I think it’s one that people who voted for it may have second thoughts and that, but in saying that, it’s not one that we take lightly and it’s one that we will tackle with both hands and see how we can improve the alcohol services and use in our communities. It takes a whole community to deal with something like that. Alcohol reduction and harm reduction is one that should be community-driven, and I look forward to having those discussions.”

Rankin Inlet voted 75 per cent in favour of a beer and wine store in a 2017 plebiscite. But since opening late 2021, the store has faced criticism for rising crime rates, stressing local community organizations and contributing to public intoxication. Recently, Sgt. Patrick Frenette of the Rankin Inlet RCMP implored hamlet council to tackle the issue, as the social situation in the community has taxed the police force.

Sammurtok asked Kusugak in the legislative assembly whether the store has had a positive or negative impact.

“The question of if it’s positive or negative, it depends who you talk to,” said Kusugak, adding that he will be meeting with hamlet council to ensure proper steps are taken to deal with the concerns.

Sammurtok, who represents Chesterfield Inlet, said he was concerned about the impact the store has had on other Kivalliq communities. He asked if the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission is evaluating the store’s impact on neighbouring communities, not just in Rankin Inlet.

“The beer and wine store is open to people from Nunavut who are able to legally purchase alcohol products from the facility,” replied Kusugak. “Whether they take it to another community and that, that’s beyond the responsibility of the alcohol store in Rankin Inlet or in Iqaluit for that matter, but it’s something that I would be more than happy to discuss within our department to see what kind of program that could be put in place.”

The 2023-24 fiscal year is set to include public consultations on the Liquor Act, which governs the operation of the beer and wine stores in both Rankin inlet and Iqaluit.

By Stewart Burnett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 31, 2023 at 13:24

This item reprinted with permission from   Kivalliq News   Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
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