North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure wants to ensure the municipality, and local governments across the province, get their fair share of marijuana revenues. (File photo)

Local governments deserve fair 50% share of pot revenue: Lefebure

Issue was hot topic at UBCM

Jon Lefebure agrees with other B.C. mayors that municipalities should receive their fair share of provincial revenues from legalized marijuana sales.

Lefebure, mayor of North Cowichan, said municipalities will be expected to cover much of the significant extra costs that legalization will bring, and should be fairly compensated.

Lefebure is currently in Whistler attending the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention where marijuana, which will be legal in Canada as of Oct. 17, is dominating a lot of the discussions.

The UBCM executive has proposed that local governments get a 40 per cent share of the provincial pot revenues to start, moving to 50 per cent after two years.

The province estimated in its February budget that its revenues from marijuana would be $50 million for the balance of 2018-19 and $75 million per year following that.

The provinces negotiated a 75 per cent share of revenues with Ottawa in May.

The federal government is placing an excise tax of $1 a gram on all recreational sales.

RELATED STORY: B.C. TOWNS TO PREMIER: SHOW US THE MARIJUANA MONEY

Minister of Finance Carole James cautioned the municipalities about their expectations regarding pot revenues.

She said in a recent interview that the province is forecasting very little revenue when it comes to cannabis, particularly in the first year of legalization.

“There are a lot of up-front costs around the infrastructure that’s going to be needed to be able to manage the licensing and the structures in our communities,” James said.

“We’re continuing to have discussions with municipalities about what they see as their role and the provincial government’s role is.”

But Lefebure said much of the responsibility around enforcement of the new marijuana laws will fall to the RCMP in the Cowichan Valley and other police forces across the province, and North Cowichan pays much of the costs of the local police.

RELATED STORY: POT SHOPS WILL HAVE TO COME BEFORE COUNCIL BEFORE THEY SET UP IN NORTH COWICHAN

“The RCMP will have increased duties with the new rules and regulations and we’d like the resources to pay for them,” he said.

“Whatever percentage of revenue sales they decide to give us likely won’t be enough. We think it’s reasonable to ask for 50 per cent.”

Lefebure said he thinks it would show great leadership on behalf of the government to commit to helping municipalities in a fair way on the issue up front.

“There are not small costs, and I don’t think it’s a good strategy for the government not to commit to this,” he said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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