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Liquor Licensing and Regulations


Creating A More Reasonable Business Environment For The Sale of Alcohol in Yellowknife

The Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has heard from our membership that the NWT Liquor Act and NWT Liquor Regulations create unnecessary burdens and restrict revenue generating opportunities for local businesses and organizations. We have identified five key alcohol-related issues, along with potential solutions, that will create a more reasonable business environment for the sale of alcohol in Yellowknife.


View our detailed policy paper here.


1. Minors are not permitted in Class A (liquor-primary) establishments for the purpose of family dining;

We recommend:

  • That the GNWT amend the NWT Liquor Regulations to allow minors to enter Class A (liquor primary) establishments, when accompanied by a parent or guardian, until 8:00pm for the purposes of family dining.


2. Businesses and organizations struggle to obtain liquor licenses, and have cited experiences with subjective interpretation and a lack of clarity as to whether a liquor license will even be issued;

We recommend:

  • That the GNWT review all informational documents, such as the Handbooks and Application Requirement checklists, to ensure information is specific and detailed; and,
  • That the GNWT conduct a review of the NWT Liquor Licensing Board to determine the most common reasons that liquor license applications are denied and to propose legislative, regulatory, and/or administrative solutions.


3. Serving staff are required to have server training, but information on course availability is very limited;

We recommend:

  • That the GNWT update their website to include information about the Certificate Alcohol Server program, including course availability and training options;
  • That the GNWT implement a service standard, so businesses can expect a response to inquiries within 5 business days; and,
  • That the GNWT implement a server training program similar to other jurisdictions, with self-study materials and an online test, by March 1st, 2020.


4. The uptown liquor shop, where businesses are required to purchase their product, is often unable to fill orders and cannot guarantee product availability for businesses;

We recommend:

  • That the GNWT work with the liquor shop to implement a documented process that guarantees orders will be filled on time and in full by March 1st, 2020; and,
  • That the savings from closing the liquor distribution warehouse (approx. $300,000xiv) be passed on to businesses and consumers through product price reductions.


5. There is no formal appeal process for those who disagree with the NWT Liquor Licensing Board’s decisions.

We recommend:

  • That the GNWT establish an appeal process for businesses who disagree with the NWT Liquor Licensing Board’s decisions.


Responses Received:

NWT Liquor Licensing Board Newsletter, September 2019, Issue 10:

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