The Bold Rush Power Plant was slapped with a liquor licence suspension last week even though it hasn’t sold a drop of alcohol in months.
“It boggles the mind,” said owner Lawrie Crawford, while staffing the small restaurant which sits kitty-corner to The News’ offices.
“It’s a very serious offence to be charged with a violation under the liquor act — most people that get their licences suspended have extreme drunk and disorderliness, or they have assaults on inspectors or deaths in the parking lot, or bar managers that are unconscious.
“That’s what has happened to get a liquor infraction in the territory and I didn’t do that.”
The Yukon Liquor Corp. issued the suspension on September 22 and hung a bright green sign on the restaurant’s front fence citing two infractions — first, the restaurant’s menu had changed and, second, it didn’t have the required capacity to seat 20 customers indoors.
But those charges are baseless because, although the restaurant held a liquor licence, it wasn’t using it, said Crawford, who sat on the Yukon Liquor Board for four years.
The regulations pertain to the sale of liquor.
So as long her restaurant doesn’t sell liquor, it doesn’t have to follow the guidelines, she said.
“They’re charging me with not serving liquor — I can’t sell liquor, I know I can’t sell liquor,” said Crawford.
But that doesn’t mean she has to give up her licence. She can hold it and not use it.
“This is like having a driver’s licence and getting charged for not putting on your turn signal when you’re not driving,” she said.
Under the Yukon Liquor Act licencees have 30 days to appeal a suspension.
Section 18(5) says that when an appeal is received, the president of the liquor corp. must refer the matter to the board and “the board shall immediately enquire into the matter and shall, after hearing the licencee and the president and any evidence, which may be adduced before them, make a decision.”
Crawford was scheduled to appeal the suspension to the liquor board on September 28.
But the corporation couldn’t find a lawyer, so it was pushed to October 11.
Although Crawford has taken the sign down, the suspension remains in effect until the appeal has been heard by the liquor board.
While other infractions, like overserving or allowing intoxicated patrons to remain on the premises, have resulted in bars like the Kopper King and the Capital receiving warning letters from the liquor corp., Crawford didn’t get so much as a phone call before her licence was pulled.
“The suspension should never have been issued without a warning; it should never have been issued, period, because there’s no violation.
“The act is so complicated that even the bureaucrats who administer it don’t understand it,” said Crawford.
“The act is not good and that doesn’t only pertain to the availability and the level of drunkenness in the community, it also pertains to people being able to make a living in simple little restaurants; I’ve lost four days of work just trying to sort this out,” she said.
Meanwhile, statistics from the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s annual reports indicate the number of licence suspensions issued to bars in the territory fell from 11 in 2001/02 to one in 2004/05.