Government of the Northwest Territories

Community control of alcohol


About plebiscites

The following information is taken from the NWT Liquor Act and NWT Liquor Regulations and is intended for reference only.

Please refer to the full documents for further information about plebiscites.

Duties of Minister

45. Where a plebiscite is to be conducted, the Minister shall, by order,

  1. designate the community or area in which the plebiscite is to be held;
  2. fix the date for the holding of the plebiscite and, if the Minister considers that an advance poll should be held, the date of the advance poll;
  3. set out the question or questions to be included on the ballot;
  4. specify the languages in which the ballot is to be prepared; and
  5. provide for such other matters as the Minister considers necessary for the proper conduct of the plebiscite.

Returning officer

46. (1) The Minister shall appoint a returning officer for a plebiscite.

Powers and duties

(2) The returning officer has the powers and may perform the duties of a returning officer appointed under the Local Authorities Elections Act.

Expense of plebiscite

48. Expenses incurred in the holding of a plebiscite must be paid out of the Liquor Revolving Fund.

Liquor restriction and prohibition systems

49. (1) A community may, in accordance with this Part, approve the establishment of a liquor restriction or prohibition system.

Available systems

(2) Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), a community may approve one of the following systems:

  1. an unrestricted system, where the community is subject only to the general liquor laws of the Northwest Territories;
  2. a restricted quantities system, where the quantity or type of liquor that persons may possess, purchase, transport or bring into the community is limited;
  3. a committee system, where a locally elected alcohol education committee decides the amounts of liquor that persons may possess, purchase, transport or bring into the community;
  4. a prohibition system, where the consumption, possession, purchase, sale or transport of liquor within the community is prohibited.

Resolution requesting plebiscite

50. (1) A municipal council or band council may, by resolution, request the Minister to hold a plebiscite to determine whether the voters support the establishment, replacement, modification or cancellation of a liquor restriction or prohibition system for the community.

Content of resolution

(2) A resolution under subsection (1) must indicate the nature of the restriction or prohibition that would be the subject of a plebiscite.

Ministerial order

(3) On receiving a resolution, the Minister may, subject to section 51, order that a plebiscite be held to determine the wishes of the voters of the community. S.N.W.T. 2011,c.8,s.16(5).


51. (1) Where a licence of a liquor-primary or food-primary class is in effect in a community, or a liquor store operates in the community, no question may be asked in a plebiscite held under section 50 that would, if supported by the voters, authorize the

making of a regulation that would have the effect of prohibiting or restricting the sale of liquor at the licensed premises or the liquor store.

Effect of section

(2) For greater certainty, this section does not restrict the holding of a plebiscite to close licensed premises under section 57, or the making of bylaws under section 54.

Giving effect to plebiscite

52. If a majority of the votes cast at a plebiscite held under section 50 approve the establishment, replacement, modification or cancellation of a liquor restriction or liquor prohibition system, the Minister shall recommend that the Commissioner make regulations implementing the results of the plebiscite.