Article by Evan Dyer, CBC News
The federal government’s plan to legalize marijuana has already generated a spat with the provinces over how potentially lucrative tax revenue will be divided.
Now a new player has entered the fray: Canada’s cities are demanding they be given a share of the revenue pie to help cover costs associated with legalization.
In a letter from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Canada’s cities say they also want the federal government to cover start-up costs of transitioning to a new regime.
“Municipalities cover almost 60 per cent of Canada’s policing costs,” FCM president Jenny Gerbasi wrote in the letter dated Nov. 2. “Preparing the bulk of Canada’s police forces to enforce new cannabis rules — with appropriate training, systems and resources — is a massive and costly undertaking.”
Gerbasi says the $161 million already earmarked by the federal government for training is a start, but it remains unclear how much of this commitment may flow to municipalities for local training needs. Furthermore, training is only one component of the start-up challenge local governments now face.”
The federation said cities are on board with the Trudeau government’s objectives and have been pre-emptively altering bylaws as they try to prepare for the changes on many fronts, despite a paucity of information.
Gerbasi, who is also deputy mayor of Winnipeg, said some cities will have to make changes to as many as 17 different departments, from policing to human resources to transit.