Fort Simpson votes to remove liquor restrictions

·1 min read

Residents of Fort Simpson have voted to remove the community's liquor restrictions.

A public vote held on Thursday, with advanced polling on November 5, saw 240 out of 730 eligible voters cast a ballot.

175 of the votes cast were in favour of removing the restrictions, while 58 were opposed. Seven ballots were rejected in the count.

The results were posted to the village of Fort Simpson’s Facebook page on Friday and confirmed by the N.W.T.'s Department of Finance.

“As more than 50 percent of the voters who cast their ballots in the plebiscite voted to remove existing restrictions... I will now move forward with implementing the results of this plebiscite,” read a memo from N.W.T. finance minister Caroline Wawzonek.

Although the decision has been made, it will take several weeks to lift the current restrictions.

“Restrictions at the liquor store will remain in place until the regulation has been registered,” Wawzonek’s memo stated.

The vote came after pressure from village councillors and residents to hold a plebiscite.

Late last year, a petition with more than 150 signatures was given to the village council asking for action be taken to remove the restrictions.

Permanent liquor restrictions in N.W.T. communities can only be amended by public vote.

Once restrictions are lifted, residents will still have to abide by the territory-wide restrictions put in place for the pandemic – for however long those measures remain in place.

The pandemic-related restrictions limit customers to a maximum of $200 per day at any liquor store in the territory, and six mickeys (375-ml bottles) of spirits in a 24-hour period.

Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio