NASS VALLEY RCMP officers continue efforts to contain the illegal sale of alcohol in the valley north of Terrace, and have made three liquor seizures in several months, with one resulting in a person scheduled to make a court appearance.
The latest seizure involved police confiscating 16 bottles of hard liquor from a vehicle officers stopped on Hwy113, the only route into the Nass Valley from Terrace.
“One of the primary focuses of the detachment is gathering intelligence and seizing liquor and charging people with illegal sales of alcohol,” said Sgt. Jim Fenske, who is in charge of the Lisims/Nass Valley RCMP detachment.
“The biggest thing we have is unlawful sales, which is people going to Terrace, buying bulk and coming up here and selling it.”
“We have charged one who is going to court in the spring,” Fenske said last week. “And we have made a seizure on the highway with information we had about somebody potentially bringing a bunch of liquor back to resell, so we have had some successes.”
That one charge is an allegation of an adult providing alcohol to a minor.
The highway search and seizures are conducted through legislation concerning liquor control and licensing and the Motor Vehicle Act.
“Due to the really good work of our First Nations police officers, we are getting more information forwarded to us constantly in regards to illegal alcohol sales and drug sales, and when we get information we can act on it,” said Fenske.
There is no legal sales outlet for alcohol in the Nass Valley, which is one of several factors which encourages the illegal sale of alcohol.
“There are people with substance abuse issues in the valley just like everyone else and sometimes they are more marginalized folks who can’t get to Terrace to purchase liquor legally as adults so there is a bit of a black market and the resale value is higher of course,” said Fenske.
“This is a money making venture. Everywhere I have been in the north, this is a problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s B.C. or the Yukon. The same philosophy applies, it’s a money-making thing,” he added of illegal alcohol sales.
Retired New Aiyansh drug and alcohol counsellor Stephen Johnson said he has long advocated for cracking down on bootlegging, and that when there did exist a cold wine and beer in Nass Camp near New Aiyansh, the problem was even worse.
He says that limiting alcohol in the Nass Valley would lower the suicide rate.
“I have been to a lot of funerals,” Johnson said, adding that alcohol was frequently a contributing factor to the early death.
Editor’s Note: this story originally stated incorrectly that Stephen Johnson is a retired New Aiyansh village councillor.