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Monkey Tree fights order to close
Northern News Services
Published Friday, February 25, 2011
"Until further notice, we'll be open for business, serving alcohol," said Steve Dinham, owner/manager of Sam's Monkey Tree Pub on Range Lake Road.
The pub had its liquor licence suspended on Jan. 25 after the five-member Liquor Licensing Board of the NWT found the pub guilty of an offence under the NWT Liquor Act.
The incident occurred on Oct. 3, 2010 at 1:18 a.m. when RCMP responded to an anonymous tip that a doorman at Sam's Monkey Tree was intoxicated. During the January hearing, Brian Asmundson, a lawyer for the GNWT, said the officers entered the pub and spoke to the doorman. One of the police officers noticed the doorman had slurred speech, involuntary eye closure, glassy eyes and had to lean against the wall to keep his balance. The doorman also had a strong smell of alcohol coming from his breath, Asmundson said.
The board fined the pub $2,000 and issued a one-day suspension for allowing an intoxicated person - in this case the doorman - to remain on the premises, and an additional $3,000 and a three-day suspension for having an employee drinking alcohol while working. The suspension was supposed to begin on Wednesday Feb. 23 and finish on Monday Feb. 28.
Documents filed with the Supreme Court confirm that Justice Edward Richard ordered a stay of the liquor board's decision on Tuesday, allowing the pub to remain open until the matter is decided in court.
Dinham didn't want to disclose the reasons for the appeal. However, during the hearings, Dinham disputed the RCMP officer's ability to determine whether the employee was in fact intoxicated because a breathalyzer test wasn't administered.
"There's only two ways you can appeal ... a liquor board infraction - if they find the decision was made out of jurisdiction or if there was an error in law," he said on Wednesday.
Dinham said the pub could have remained open during its liquor licence suspension to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks only. However, he added he wasn't planning on opening during the suspension except possibly for lunch.
"It doesn't make much sense to open Friday and Saturday night just for food service," said Dinham.
He said the pub would have also lost an estimated "tens of thousands" of dollars during the suspension, especially given that the pub is scheduled to show an Ultimate Fighting Championship event on Saturday night.