After several months, Rankin Inlet’s hamlet council achieved a noticeable change in the beer and wine store: the daily purchase limits were reduced in September to 12 beers per day, two bottles of wine or six beers and one bottle of wine.
The Department of Finance told Kivalliq News the new limits were reduced at the recommendation of Rankin Inlet’s council from their motion in July.
When Rankin Inlet RCMP Sgt. Patrick Frenette addressed council at its Sept. 25 meeting, the changes were too fresh to account for in statistics just yet.
“I’m not sure if it’s going to put a huge dent in our statistics,” said Frenette, adding it’s important to start somewhere.
He noted that a fair amount of the impact of the store is not captured in RCMP statistics and instead is seen in the health centre and among mental health workers in the community.
As for August, RCMP stats were up again overall, with prisoners up to 89, marking a 68 per cent increase from the same period in 2022.
“That concerns me a bit, because members do try their best to try and not incarcerate individuals,” said Frenette.
That directive is for a number of reasons, but mainly because of the limited room in Rankin Inlet’s cell block.
“Some evenings we’ll have up to 16 prisoners,” said Frenette.
Council discussed the number of calls to the RCMP and how often members are responding to the same people versus new cases. As councillors discussed bootlegging and the beer and wine store’s effect, Coun. Kelly Lindell said, “We need to figure out what we need to do to help this 10 per cent of our community to get better, and just taking away alcohol is not going to do that.”
Frenette said the RCMP is rather toothless to deal with bootlegging and it’s difficult to pursue. He agreed that Rankin Inlet needs more programs beyond a reduction in purchase limits at the store.
“I’m not happy with the stats that I have at the RCMP right now, but, that being said, I think we’re hopefully heading in the right direction slowly,” said Frenette. “I think we’re getting there. It’s just not going to happen in two days.”
As RCMP Const. Matt Hope was in the gallery and became the subject of conversation among councillors for his community engagement efforts, Mayor Harry Towtongie quipped, “We’re in a mess right now, but we have Hope.”
Not impressed with acclamation
Coun. Chris Eccles will be returning to council in the new term, as he and six other candidates have been acclaimed in a municipal election that sees no competition for councillors.
He expressed his disappointment about that.
“Little bit disappointed of the people leaving because it’s been enjoyable to work with them, but even more disappointed with the lack of people that actually put their name in to try and run,” he said in comments toward the end of the Sept. 25 meeting. “We have a lot of Facebook warriors out there that love to complain about things but (it) seems they’re not the ones wanting to help fix the problems too.”
Eccles will be forming the next hamlet council with Michael Shouldice, Martha Hickes, Daniel Kowmuk, Levi Curley, David Kakuktinniq Jr. and Art Sateana.