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Underage partying in hotel

Minors find ways to drink, do drugs in rented rooms

Jennifer McPhee
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 04/03) - Underage drinking is a problem at the Igloo Inn, says owner Charles Jeon, although staff try to stop it.

It is often mentioned during court cases that underage teens party overnight at the Igloo Inn.

It came up again last week during a Supreme Court jury trial for sexual assault. In this case, a 15-year-old girl began a two-day drinking binge at the Igloo Inn.

And about a month ago, a young woman who is now a hardcore addict, told Yellowknifer she was introduced to cocaine while partying at the Igloo.

Jeon said the inn doesn't rent rooms to anyone under 19-years-old -- but that doesn't stop them from sneaking in.

Some adults rent rooms and then hand over the keys to minors or invite minors into their rooms. "That's a big problem," he said.

The inn blacklists people who do this.

He suspects one person on the blacklist of having a fondness for minors. The man has tried giving a different name, said Jeon, and new staff don't always catch him.

Jeon said they try hard to keep minors out. After all, they are expensive guests who often leave quite a mess behind.

"I've never seen a minor leave the room clean," he said.

Jeon finds garbage, pop and beer bottles, broken toilets and windows, beer bottles, spit on the floor -- and sometimes has to steam clean bedspreads because blood is left behind.

"There are two kinds of blood. One is from the nose. You know the other kind."

If the Igloo Inn staff find out kids are drinking inside a room, they ask them to leave. This is often futile, he explained.

"They never listen, they don't care."

He said the police are very busy and usually don't show up right away. The kids know this, said Jeon.

When he threatens to call police, the teens sometimes tell him to go ahead and yell racial slurs at him.

Most of them disappear when the cops do show up, he said.

It's too expensive to have full-time security, he explains, so they call a security company on a case-by-case basis. Still, getting the minors out isn't easy, he said. "We have no right or power."

Sgt. Daryl Key said "it hasn't been brought to our attention that it's an ongoing problem at any one establishment."

It's not against the law for people under 18 to rent a room, said Key. He's not sure, but thinks the legal age is about 16.

Key said minors partying in hotels becomes a police problem when drinking is involved -- although he said innkeepers do have the right to remove tenants, it's just that they don't want to get into a physical confrontation.

"We don't want them to either," he added.

The hotel keepers act doesn't specify any age requirements, but it does say hotels have the right to remove "undesirable persons".

Another local inn said minors aren't a problem for them any more.

"We have excellent security," said Jenni Legge at the Yellowknife Inn. "It hasn't been a problem in years."