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Beer limit effects still to be seen

Rankin Inlet holds final council meeting of previous term
Rankin Inlet’s beer and wine store has been the subject of much discussion in council chambers over the last year, as the community is grappling with rising crime statistics. NNSL file photo

The last council meeting for Rankin Inlet before a new council is sworn in following the Oct. 23 election saw discussion of a familiar topic: the beer and wine store and its effects in the community.

Sgt. Patrick Frenette of the Rankin Inlet RCMP presented statistics for September that again showed an increase of calls over the previous year.

Calls for service in September to the RCMP were 296, with alcohol being a factor in 178 of them. From the start of the year to the end of September, there have been 2,423 calls for service, compared to 1,965 in 2022 – a 23 per cent increase.

Calls involving alcohol are up 60 per cent compared to the previous year, while detainees are up 61 per cent.

“Seventy-four out of the 78 prisoners were intoxicated,” said Frenette about those being lodged in the cells in September.

For the whole year, 655 out of 783 detainees have been intoxicated.

He also noted a clear correlation with the beer and wine store’s opening days, saying calls for service when it’s open are much higher than when it’s closed.

Asked whether the new limitations at the store – daily allotments of 12 beers or two bottles of wine per customer – are having an effect, Frenette said it’s too early to judge, and there’s a natural decrease in police calls at the end of summer as well.

Coun. Michael Shouldice, who will be returning to the new council by acclamation, included some thoughts on the next steps for the beer and wine store. In a document, he suggested an addictions treatment centre, programs for education and counselling, partnering with organizations such as Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an event to create awareness around alcohol, collecting crucial statistics to measure the situation in the community, a change in legislation regarding the amount of alcohol that can be ordered at one time to address bootlegging and more.

Taxi fares to be increased

In light of rising gas prices, Silu Autut of Silu’s Taxi wrote a letter to the hamlet requesting to increase fares to $8 per ride locally and $10 to or from the airport. The fares were last set in a 2008 bylaw at $6 in town and $7 to and from the airport.

“With the financial impacts of the pandemic and, more recently, inflation, we have experienced a sharp and notable increase in our business costs in the last few years,” wrote Autut, adding his business has been serving the community since 2020.

“Specifically, the costs of purchasing, fueling and maintaining our vehicles have all increased significantly.”

Autut had posted on Facebook in The Rankin Inlet News group that the taxi fares would be going to $8 and $10 as of October 9.

Coun. Chris Eccles noted an issue with the fares being potentially increased before being passed in council.

“I don’t think that’s really the right way to do it,” he said.

Council passed two readings of the bylaw to change the taxi rates to what Autut proposed, with Coun. Megan Pizzo-Lyall being the only dissenter, noting concern in how steeply the rates were increasing.

For the bylaw to be passed, it requires a third reading, which is likely to happen at the first regular council meeting following the Oct. 23 municipal election.