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Rankin Inlet to get beer and wine store within 12 months; Cambridge Bay will wait longer

Rankin Inlet will have a beer and wine store within the next year, Finance Minister George Hickes confirmed in the legislative assembly on Tuesday.

Since the beer and wine store opened in Iqaluit, orders of hard liquor have fallen by more than 50 per cent, Finance Minister George Hickes says.

However, Dan Carlson, assistant deputy minister of finance, told Nunavut News that Cambridge Bay’s liquor store will come later.

“We chose to expand to Rankin first as the NULC (Nunavut Liquor Commission) already has a presence there, including its regional distribution centre. We expect opening that store will take up much of our time, so until we are further along with it, we won’t be able to commit to opening anything in Cambridge Bay within 12 months,” Carlson stated. “That said, we are very aware that residents of Cambridge Bay want a store – they made this clear through the referendum we hosted. While Rankin Inlet is similar to Iqaluit, there are other considerations at play in Cambridge Bay. For example, the fact that the NULC does not have any presence there and the community’s smaller size mean the Iqaluit store model may not be our best approach. When we do shift our focus west, we will explore other store arrangements as part of our planning.”

Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie pointed out that close to 75 per cent of Rankin Inlet residents who voted in a May 2017 plebiscite were in favour of a retail beer and wine store. She asked Hickes point blank on Tuesday whether such an outlet would be built in Rankin Inlet within the next 12 months. Hickes responded in the affirmative.

In Cambridge Bay, an overwhelming 83 per cent of 2017 plebiscite voters supported a beer and wine store.

Hickes noted that the Department of Finance is currently seeking feedback from Nunavummiut in regards to the Iqaluit liquor store, which has been open for almost three years. He said there’s still “a lot of detailed analysis” ongoing to determine the beer and wine store’s impacts, but one trend that has been obvious to the government over that period is that orders of hard liquor have dropped by more than 50 per cent, said Hickes.