Legislators to close liquor loophole

A new bill would allow cabinet to ban drinking in public on Commissioner's land. The change comes at the request of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun and the village of Mayo.

Government MLAs are moving to tighten up the Yukon’s Liquor Act.

A new bill would allow cabinet to ban drinking in public on Commissioner’s land. The change comes at the request of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun and the village of Mayo.

Both local governments want to see a public drinking ban enforced at Galena Park, on the banks of the Stewart River. As it’s Commissioner’s land, that’s up to the territory.

But cabinet currently can’t consider such a request, thanks to a quirk with the law as it stands, said Virginia Labelle, vice-president of the liquor corporation.

“If it’s not within a municipality and it’s not on First Nations’ land, the act currently requires that you hold a plebiscite of the residents,” she said. “Well, if nobody is living there, there’s nobody to vote in a plebiscite.”

The bill would change this. But the change wouldn’t automatically ban all drinking on Commissioner’s land. Instead, specific bans would have to first be proposed, then cleared by cabinet.

“It’s not any more broad than that,” said Labelle. “The trigger is the request from the community adjacent. It just allows the Yukon government to consider a request.”