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Black Knight gets first liquor violation

Katherine Hudson
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 9, 2011

The Black Knight Pub received its first Liquor Act infraction after 15 years in business Tuesday.

During a compliance hearing at the Yellowknife Inn, the NWT Liquor Licensing Board fined the establishment with $750 for allowing an intoxicated person to enter and remain in a licensed premises.

The four-person board heard the agreed statement of facts from both the GNWT's legal counsel and The Black Knight Pub.

According to Sarah Kay, counsel for the GNWT, the incident occurred on Oct. 15, a sad day for many as from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Top Knight Pub above The Black Knight Pub, a memorial was held for Air Tindi passenger Timothy Harris, 54, of Yellowknife, who died in an Oct. 4 plane crash about 40 km west of Lutsel K'e.

After the memorial from 8 p.m. to midnight, there was a going-away celebration for long-time Black Knight musician Jim Taylor downstairs at The Black Knight. It was here where a tall man appeared to be intoxicated - swaying, burping, gagging and involuntarily closing their eyes.

Liquor inspectors Kerry Nicholson and Leonard Brotherston entered the pub at about 11:18 p.m.

The male acknowledged he had been drinking since 2 p.m., was served three pints in the afternoon and one more earlier in the evening. The man left and returned to the pub on two different occasions between leaving first at 5 p.m. and finally returning at 11:10 p.m. At this time, the patron was cut off but wasn't asked to leave the bar.

Kay said The Black Knight had to balance its obligations and responsibilities.

"There was an awareness of the emotional day" and staff attempted to move people along peacefully. Staff members did not check the male's level of intoxication and he was not asked to leave the bar until the inspectors came, according to Kay.

She said the establishment declined to show cause, saving time in the proceedings and demonstrating a strong level of co-operation. She stressed it was the establishment's first liquor violation and asked the board for The Black Knight to be dealt a fine between $500 and $1,500 without a licence suspension.

Scott Wray, president of The Black Knight, suggested the minimum fine, citing proactive behaviour since the incident. The general manager has been speaking with each staff member working that night about what could have been done better, going over the signs of different levels of intoxication with staff and how to proceed with removing intoxicated patrons, and having an additional "doorman" on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Liquor board chair Colin Baile said he took into account the underlying circumstances of the incident: a shaken up community from two plane crashes in its near vicinity within a month and a pub that has made sure its staff training is maintained and up to date.

"It's not the most egregious of cases brought to the board," said Baile.

"How the licence holder exercised judgement in the case - moving people along as quickly, quietly and sensitively as possible - they didn't do it quickly enough."

Baile said the Black Knight holds a Class A licence - where liquor is served primarily - and has an obligation to monitor patrons at a higher level.

Baile concluded by imposing the $750 fine, to be paid by Jan. 6.

"We respect their decision and it's business as usual," Wray told Yellowknifer.

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