NEWS

Liquor store plan divides remote B.C. village

08/19/2013 09:03 EDT | Updated 10/19/2013 05:12 EDT
A small First Nations village in northwestern B.C. is divided over plans to open the first beer and wine store in the community.

The village government in New Aiyansh plans to establish a licensed, legal counter at the local gas station.

"In other places... even the smaller communities ... do have liquor outlets [and] they don't have some of the problems that we incur having bootleggers in our community," said Chief Coun. Gerald Robinson.

Currently, there are no stores selling liquor, beer or wine in any of the Nass Valley's four villages, so many residents have turned to re-selling alcohol, he said.

Now the village government has applied for a liquor store license with the B.C. Liquor Control Branch.

Robinson said the government, which would run the store, would also be able to put some of the store's profits toward treatment programs in the Nass Valley communities, where alcohol abuse is already a major problem.

Lavinia Clayton, who runs a bed and breakfast in Gingolx, not far from New Aiyansh, thinks a village-run liquor store won't curb the bootlegging, and will only create new problems.

"There's a lot of people that like to drink, and do anything just to get a bottle," she told CBC News.

Robinson admits that about half of the people in New Aiyansh share Clayton's view and oppose the village's plan, but he also says the current store-free approach clearly isn't working.

"Part of reality is that this is something that is always going to come into our life. So, how do we approach it? And we're going to approach it in a different way, and having this outlet is a different way of facing the issue," Robinson said.

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