Sunday hours at the Mad Trapper bar in Inuvik may be shifting to 3 p.m. to midnight, should a new bylaw before Town Council survive the legislation gauntlet.
Currently, the lone bar in town can open from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays, but only from April 1 to Sept. 30. Owner Richard Adams is asking council to shift the time he can be open. He’s also asking for permission to open on Sundays to Nov. 30.
“We’ve established quite a good Sunday base,” he said. “The biggest complaint we’re having is that they’re really pissed off that I make last call at 9:30 at night.
“If I didn’t feel there was money in it, if I didn’t think the customer was driving this I wouldn’t even be sitting in front of you tonight. It’s all based on the customers. We’ve got a good base of people that want to see expanded couple hours.”
Council passed the current Licensed Premises Bylaw in 2017. Under the NWT Liquor act, changes can’t be made to the bylaw for a mandatory four-year waiting period. Senior administrative officer Grant Hood noted Adams had completed the mandatory time frame to make his request.
Leave off sales to the bootleggers
The Mad Trapper employs 14 people. Noting the pandemic shut him down for four months and he was still at only 20 per cent of his normal sales, Adams said he wanted to distance himself from Sunday mornings. Having legitimate access to liquor could also limit opportunities for bootleggers, suggested Adams. Current legislation forbids him from having off-sales on Sunday hours, however.
“I’ll leave that to the bootleggers,” he remarked.
Councillors voted unanimously to move the bylaw to first reading.
“I remember four years ago when we approved the initial request for Sunday openings,” said Coun. Clarence Wood. “The major opposition to it was from a couple of groups in town worried if it would impact the community with drunks being all over the place on Sunday. Sunday was a family day.”
“Well, I think we’ve all seen that Sunday openings have had absolutely no impact that I can see other than cutting down on some of the bootlegging profits.”
With the bylaw passing first reading, it now begins an extra-long journey before becoming reality. First it goes before the Justice Minister to sign off on before coming back to council. The town then releases a public notice and council votes on second reading. The town puts out a second public notice and council votes on final reading. If passed, the changes do not go into effect for 30 days.