2 Nunavut hamlets vote on liquor laws, neither pass

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Liquor laws in two Nunavut hamlets will remain unchanged after results from separate plebiscites were posted by Nunavut Elections late Monday evening.

Residents in Arviat, Nunavut narrowly voted in favour of changing the hamlet's liquor laws to end decades of prohibition, but fell short of the 60 per cent margin required by the territory's Liquor Act in order for the change to go in effect.

Meanwhile, a majority of voters in Coral Harbour, Nunavut, rejected an end to prohibition.

Each hamlet held a vote on Monday which, if passed, would have replaced a total ban in the communities with a restricted quantities system.

According to two news releases issued in October, both hamlets had petitioned the territory's minister of Finance for a vote to change their liquor systems.

Arviat results

In Arviat, residents voted whether to allow the purchase or importation of 24 355 ml cans of beer and eight litres of wine every seven days.

Monday's plebiscite saw 52.6 per cent of voters respond yes to changing the current liquor bylaws with a voter turnout of 59 per cent, or 750 total votes cast.

The hamlet on the west coast of Hudson Bay with an estimated population of 2,966, held a similar plebiscite in Feb. 2014. At the time, the community voted 509 to 226 against changing its liquor system, which has prohibited alcohol for four decades.

Coral Harbour results

Residents of Coral Harbour — with an estimated population under 1,000 — were asked to vote on whether they are in favour of changing the liquor system to allow people to purchase or import one litre of spirits, four litres of wine and 18 litres of beer every 14 days.

The community saw 56.4 per cent of voters respond no, with a 78 per cent turnout or, 337 votes cast.

"At this time, the residents of Arviat and Coral Harbour have decided that their respective community should remain prohibited and I want to thank them for voting in the plebiscites," said Nunavut Finance Minister George Hickes in a statement Tuesday.

The consumption, possession, purchase, sale or transport of liquor will stay banned in both hamlets. Hickes says if residents of either community want to revisit the decision in the future, a petition requesting a new plebiscite can be sent to the Finance minister.