Call to gamble
Allen pushes for legalized gambling

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 25/98) - With the town election coming up Oct. 19, mayoralty candidate Roger Allen has put in the call for legalized gambling as a way to help eliminate the town's $2.4 million debt -- a debt that partly stems from a Midnight Sun Arena cost overrun.

"Why not have legalized gambling and support this arena," the 46-year-old said.

"By virtue of the Dempster Highway connecting the Yukon we should have that arena full in the summer."

Though Allen said he is not a gambler himself, he called gambling "an acceptable thing in Canada and worldwide and we should not consider ourselves different."

Allen, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1996, also called for the Great Northern Arts Festival to use the arena next year, even though organizers were satisfied with their SAM school site.

"That's a prime example of the community not supporting its own infrastructure. It's ludicrous," Allen said.

As for the argument gambling will hurt families, Allen said "we know from research that very few of the people in Dawson (where there is legal gambling) really go and gamble."

As such, Inuvik casinos or black jack tables could be a future tourist draw.

Allen was born in Aklavik but graduated from Inuvik's Samuel Hearne school in 1971.

After high school, he attended the University of Colorado for one year and then lived in worked in Alberta until February 1977 when he returned to the Delta.

Between 1983 and '85, Allen served two years as the chair of the Mackenzie Delta Beaufort Regional Council, a forum for communities to come together to resolve common problems and set regional goals.

"In those days we pushed for the regional college," he said.

In '85 he worked as executive director of the Nunavut constitutional forum.

He went on to a stint as president of the Committee for Original Peoples' Entitlement, Inuvik town councillor in '88, Aklavik hamlet councillor in '89 and then Aklavik mayor between 1992-'94.

He is currently involved with the Nihtat Gwich'in Council and he sits as a director of the Gwich'in Development Corporation.

"So I've got a lot of experience both in municipal politics and aboriginal politics from both the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit side," he told the xxxDrum.

"I'm actually all three races."

Aside from suggesting gambling to revitalize the area economy and eliminate debt, Allen is urging for the Inuvik Chamber of Commerce's return.

The current body acting as a chamber, Western Arctic Trade and Tourism "doesn't serve the community," Allen said.

"I think it's an ad hoc committee that's more geared toward the tourism end of things. That's the perception we get because you see the town suffering."

Supporting area business is key to Allen's platform because "if we're going to build a good solid community, and it's the same in economics or business, we need that level of corporate support."

Another priority for Allen is improving town roads and infrastructure.