Bar expands
Navigator to increase lounge occupancy

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (May 08/00) - There will be elbow room aplenty in the lounge at the Navigator Inn when the renovations are finished.

Scheduled to get under way this July, plans for the Iqaluit facility include a new lobby, a new conference room and the addition of several new seats to the licensed lounge.

But, the addition of those licensed seats has left at least one Iqaluit resident upset.

Elisapee Sheutiapik, one of the owners of the proposed Uvagut Bar, said the Nunavut Liquor Board's decision to award the expanded liquor license to the Navigator Inn was unfair. Sheutiapik and her business partners were denied a liquor license earlier this year, primarily because of the intense public opposition their application received from many Iqaluit residents.

"They're contradicting themselves," said Sheutiapik.

"The board is saying Iqaluit has a problem with alcohol and then they turn around and increase the size (of the Navigator Inn). They're saying there is a need (for more licensed seats)," she said.

Most of the opposition to the Uvagut Bar came from the municipality, which passed a motion last year requiring council to actively oppose the issuing of any new liquor licenses for a period of five years. Brought forward by Coun. Doug Lem, the idea behind the motion was that the five-year period would give Iqaluit the time it needed to deal with some of its alcohol-related problems.

Presiding over the public hearing that was called because of the opposition, board chair Goo Arlooktoo said he was surprised that the Navigator Inn's recent application didn't draw any fire from local dwellers.

"What surprised us was that we didn't receive any substantial objections," said Arlooktoo.

"There was nothing from the town or the other organized groups. We did receive a couple of things which the board looked at and deemed (to be from) competition. Those kind of objections, the board doesn't take into account," he said.

Diane Webb, the general manager of the Navigator Inn, was pleased with the board's decision and said the number of seats -- bumped from 37 to 55 -- would give hotel guests and local customers more room.

"This gives us more space and gives (the customers) a quiet and comfortable space to come," said a relieved Webb.

"I made the application, and based on our reputation of responsible service over the years (we got the license). I held my breath and crossed my fingers."

As for Sheutiapik, she said the proponents of the bar hadn't had the opportunity to meet since the Navigator Inn had been awarded the new license, but she noted they would certainly be holding another planning session to address the situation.

"This isn't the end," said Sheutiapik.

"This is the calm before the storm."