Roach says no gambling
Mayor says casino would 'prey on local people'

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

INUVIK (Sep 30/98) - Incumbent mayor George Roach says Inuvik has more than enough gambling to satisfy the needs of people who need gambling. And with that position, he has distinguished himself from challenger Roger Allen in the town election campaign.

"We have bingos every night of the week, pretty near," Roach said.

"The casinos that are put on by the service clubs, I have no problem with those, but for a permanent casino, no."

Roach said he doubts tourists who gamble will drive past Dawson City specifically to come to Inuvik to gamble.

"We may get a few outside dollars, but for the most part it'll be preying on local people so I'm against any permanent casino."

Roger Allen has suggested organized gambling could be a way both to utilize the Midnight Sun Arena as much as possible while generating revenue to help pay for that arena's cost overruns.

"Let's live with some reality here and that reality is let's get that (arena) functioning 24 hours a day whenever we can," he said.

"(Gambling) supports every other society in Canada. Look at Lotto 6/49 and look at the provincial lotteries."

Aside from gambling, Allen and Roach differ on another money-generating point: whether a list of names of people who owe the town tax money should have been published.

"I objected to them printing out people's names who owed tax arrears because it does not serve a purpose," Allen said.

"You cannot embarrass people into paying a bill and that's how the public perceived it -- to be an embarrassment tactic."

Allen said council should have made a more concerted effort to bring people to the table and make deals to recover as much money as possible.

Roach said the list-publishing tactic, which is outlined as legal in NWT legislation, was successful.

"We reduced our tax bill from over a million dollars down to two or three hundred thousand dollars and it's mainly one individual who we're left with," Roach said before stressing the town did try to make deals first.

Allen is also introducing new ideas to try to stimulate the area economy such as the town passing a resolution to designate Inuvik as the conference centre of the world.

"We should really concentrate on trying to promote local small businesses."

He would also like to try to "get a shift in how we bring together our three institutions. Right now we have the Inuvialuit, the Gwich'in and the main community working in isolation of one another. So what I want to do is strategically bring them together so we can then rebuild this community."

Does that mean he sees Inuvik as fractured?

"I think (so), yeah," Allen said.

"If you're going to build a strong solid community, whether it be in economics or business, we need that level of corporate support."

For his part, Roach said "I certainly don't see (isolated subcommunities) in our curling club lists or our gun club lists or any groups or organizations that I know of, like the legion."