The debate over whether to allow a liquor store in Teslin spilled into the legislative assembly last week.
Last Thursday NDP MLA Kate White tabled a petition from the community that was signed by nearly 200 residents asking the Yukon government to reconsider the idea.
The petition also called on the government to hold a public consultation over the issue, and to consider investing in other projects that could be more beneficial to the community.
About 450 people live in Teslin. As it stands, alcohol is only available at the Yukon Motel and Restaurant.
NDP MLA Kevin Barr said a government liquor store would make a wider selection of alcoholic beverages cheaper and more readily accessible in Teslin.
“Many community members are concerned about the social problems and impact on the social fabric of their community that this could have,” he said.
He then asked Stacey Hassard, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation as well as the MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin, whether a public consultation would be held in the community.
Hassard said two community meetings had been held so far and that he’d continue to go door-to-door to find out more about the community’s feelings towards the idea.
He also said he hadn’t seen the petition and that some residents had told him they’d signed without fully understanding the project’s implications in the community.
“I have never been in favour of or opposed to the project,” he replied to Barr.
“I’m simply doing what I believe an MLA should do, and that is, when you’re brought forward a question, to do the due diligence and do the consultation that is required.”
Barr said Teslin residents have mentioned other potential projects, such as the construction of a swimming pool, which would contribute positively to the community.
In January 2015, the Village of Teslin and the Teslin Tlingit Council published their joint community development plan, which outlines capital and infrastructure projects for the next decade.
A new swimming pool was at the top of the wish list. But high operations and maintenance costs have prevented that project from being realized.
The community expects the pool would cost about a half million dollars, and between $35,000 and $317,000 per year to maintain, according to past research.
Hassard said he’s been told the community doesn’t want a pool anymore.
“When the First Nation or the local municipal government is approached with the idea of a swimming pool they say, “No, absolutely not. We can’t afford it. We’re not interested. Please don’t approach your government about building us a swimming pool.”
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