Rankin Inlet will have a beer and wine store within the next calendar year, Finance Minister George Hickes confirmed in the legislative assembly on Feb. 18.
Hickes was responding to a question from Rankin Inlet North-Chesterfield Inlet MLA Cathy Towtongie.
Almost 75 per cent of those who cast ballots in a community plebiscite in May 2017 voted in favour of the retail outlet.
Former Kivalliq Inuit Association executive director Gabe Karlik said the wine and beer store has been a longtime coming for Rankin.
Karlik said the retail outlet will be a positive for the community.
He said at the time the plebiscite was held, the community was clear in its support of an outlet being opened in Rankin.
“Everybody else in Canada has it and it’s time we do too,” said Karlik.
“There will be at least one more community consultation before it opens for anyone concerned, but, again, Rankin’s been waiting for this for a long time.
“I get the feeling the overwhelming majority of people in the community are ready for this and, personally, I’ve always supported it.
“The store will also bring 20, I believe it is, jobs to Rankin Inlet, and the timing is right with everything else that’s happening in the next four or five years because Rankin is going to become a very busy community.”
Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit, has had a wine and beer store for almost three years and, during that time, the GN notes hard liquor orders in that community have dropped by more than 50 per cent.
That’s a point not lost on Troy Aksaluik of Rankin Inlet.
Aksalnik supports having the retail outlet, even though he has not had a drink in 5-1/2 years.
He said having a wine and beer store in Rankin won’t tempt him to drink again and he sees the store as a positive development for the community.
“A lot of my friends waste so much money by flying in beer every week,” said Aksalnik.
“Now that they’ll be able to get it here, I don’t think it should cost them as much.
“We already have a Legion open four nights a week here and I’ve set foot in there about three or four times for special occasions like the Stanley Cup final or the Super Bowl.
“I just drank pop and that didn’t bother me at all.”
The Nunavut Liquor Commission’s regional distribution centre is located in Rankin Inlet.