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REPORTING · 20th July 2012
Walter McFarlane
Alcan’s Liquor License came up at the Regular Meeting of Council on Monday, July 16th. Jim Thom, owner of several liquor establishments in Kitimat wished to speak on the issue.

“The bars and stuff like that have hit hard times and are still the lowest industry to invest in and invest on in British Columbia because there is no money there, but we would like to survive. We have staff, we have women who are working for us and they have children and families and stuff like that, they pay their rents around town,” said Thom.

He said he didn’t mind Alcan having a restaurant licence but a primary licence would allow them to do anything a liquor store could do. They would not have to order anything from BC or hire any employees from BC.

He told Council the local residents cannot be apart of this, they can not be let into this lounge and will not be allowed to work there. The employees will either come from California or the camps in Northern Alberta.

“They will live in the camp, be supported by that camp,” said Thom. He expressed there is no workers from the Rio Tinto Alcan Camp staying in the Motels and this Liquor License will also affect the taxi drivers in town. He stated they did not need a Primary License.

“Be nice to people who have been putting up, waiting for something to happen in Kitimat for the last 20-30 years. Its sort of coming around,” concluded Thom.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan questioned his facts, particularly about the jobs at bar going to people from out of the Province. Thom stated they could be there, it’s free money for them with free room and board.

Councillor Phil Germuth wanted to know the legal requirements in BC are for buying liquor. Do they have to buy it locally? Thom replied it has to go through a Store 100. They could not buy the alcohol locally. There would be no jobs lost and no jobs gained.

Councillor Rob Goffinet stated Council has been told there will be no off sales. Liquor will be strictly drunk in the lounge. Thom told Council a primary license allows an off sales license. He told the Council to let them have the restaurant license.

“Once you give them primary, it gives them the licensing act to do off sales. They have to pay for it,” said Thom.

Goffinet stressed twice more that Council has been told that off sales will not be allowed. Thom explained a primary license does allow off sales. Monaghan thanked him for coming to Council.

Later in the meeting, Councillor Rob Goffinet made a motion for Mayor and Council to Opt Out of managing the public hearing process. He added this is in the understanding there will be no off sales and the people in the camp have freedom and movement to and from the camp.

“After asking for clarification through staff to the Liquor Control Board, they are adamant, […] when examining the views of residents, which is the only purview of a Municipal Government, the local government or First Nations must be careful not to consider irrelevant factors, such as concerns from existing licensees about potential negative impacts on their businesses,” said Goffinet.

He went through the requirements one more time. Click on this sentence to read about their previous discussion.

Councillor Phil Germuth stated there was only one requirement which Council could comment on, the impact on the community. He stated the Liquor Control Board Requirements were like comparing apples to oranges for this case because the camp was not in the community and 5 of the 6 criteria are irrelevant. He stated the cost to opt in was minimal.

Germuth also stated all local businesses, not just the ones who hold liquor licenses will be impacted. He added if Kemano is dry, this one should be as well. He stated the community was told the camp would provide a huge benefit to Kitimat. However, all the food is already trucked in.

He added the contractors want this camp to be dry. The camp rules for quiet hours are not being followed or enforced and contractors are getting tired of being called because an employee is making too much noise.

Councillor Corrine Scott looked at what has been said. Council is allowed to make comments. In addition, Compass, the group applied for no off sales. Finally, it would be closed to the public, just the people working at the camp can drink there.

Councillors wanted to know if there was a guarantee there will be no off sales endorsement. Councillor Edwin Empinado had to clarify about the hours of operation. Council was told the Liquor Control Licensing Branch would be dealing with it, although they might not have the proper information.

Municipal Manager Ron Poole told Council the Liquor Control Board simply wanted to know if Council was in or out. Anything further would probably be ignored. He suggested following those up as comments during the process.

The motion was called and carried.