Questions and answers about the alcohol referendum

After last week’s article regarding Six Nations Elected Council’s announcement that a January 2015 alcohol referendum will take place at Six Nations, Two Row Times was approached by several people that had questions for the Economic Development staff, but who had their own reasons for not wanting to pose their questions in a public forum organized by the Elected Council.

In the spirit of contributing to the dialogue and discussion around this issue, the Two Row Times raised these questions with the Six Nations Elected Council in an effort to increase community participation and education. We would like to thank Council’s Community Planner, Amy Lickers for taking the time to offer the following answers.

TRT: It was stated that Kahnawake’s regulations are being used as a reference tool. It was also stated that our police chief has asked Council to pose a question to the Crown Attorney regarding prosecuting charges coming from our community law. Has Economic Development or Council posed this question regarding prosecution to the Crown? Were any issues identified as potentially litigious areas if we assume jurisdiction over regulating alcohol, from the Crown’s perspective?

Amy Lickers: The Kahnawake Alcohol Law has not been sent to the Crown’s office yet.

TRT: Under provincial laws pertaining to alcohol regulation, there are very serious rules that must be adhered to, and when they are not, very stiff fines are imposed and licenses can be revoked. To a great degree, enforcement of the mainstream system relies on people “snitching” on businesses that are not complying with the law (say, for example, serving minors, cutting off customers that are impaired, or having “last call” at the time decided by law). In our community, our people are averse to participating in the legal system, especially if it requires testifying against a person (or possibly a business establishment in this case). What measures have been taken into consideration to encourage strong adherence to our law, if we choose to regulate alcohol sales? And, if there are stiff fines, will those payments be returned to the community?

AL: One of the things that is being examined is to have some of the community revenues from the brewery be dedicated to enforcement of the regulation. This would mean an officer (perhaps one seconded from Six Nations Police, or an officer of the Regulation Commission) would be responsible to doing site visits and check-ins with establishments holding permits. We haven’t discussed where the fines would go at this time, but since all revenues generated from the brewery will be going back to the community, it would be safe to say that the fines would, too. Perhaps there is an opportunity for community feedback as to where they would go.

TRT: The Six Nations Police Service often has only two or three officers on duty most evenings. If establishments that draw large crowds, such as the Speedway, were granted a license to sell alcohol, has consideration been given to the impact it would potentially have on the safety of the community and patrons? What measures are being considered to ensure community safety (and preferably adequate policing) as it pertains to alcohol sales in establishments that tend to draw larger crowds?

AL: Again, we are looking at being able to earmark a percentage of revenues to enhance the police service within the community.

TRT: Will profits be shared with the community in a broad way or will it only benefit Band Council? (This person felt very strongly that aside from Public Works salting and paving the roads, they do not benefit from Band Council getting more money and he wanted the money to be accessible to the community, even those who do not want to deal with Band Council).

AL: I would like to point out that the brewery isn’t the only option that we’ve taken out to the community. Actually over the past four years, we’ve brought agreements that add up to almost $100 million dollars over the next 20 years. We are in the process of forming an Economic Development Trust fund where all money generated on community initiatives will be administered. Back in 2011, we undertook a community engagement process to ask community members about business opportunities and where funds could be spent. Some of the feedback was things like: elder care, youth programming, arts and culture, non-insured health benefits, offsetting hydro costs, recreation programs, housing, infrastructure and business development. The trust is being set up to ensure that community priorities are being funded. The goal of the trust is to directly benefit the lives of individual community members, without providing a per capita payment. (This link shows a grid of the agreements and the amount of money that will go to the trust, as well as how much we’ve been able to secure specifically for the Grand River Post Secondary Education Office.

TRT: Has Council sought legal advice on liability if they assume jurisdiction over this issue? If so, what questions were posed to legal counsel and what answers were given?

AL: This would probably be a better question for the Chief. I do know that they are looking into the liability and the legality of it because there is a court case going on now regarding the Provincial alcohol laws within the community and whether they do or don’t apply. I’m just not sure what can be printed because the case is currently going on.


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