What Will Cities Need to Prepare For Legalization?

Article by, Lift News

What will cities need to prepare for legalization? Municipal governments are lobbying their provincial counterparts to outline how much money will be allocated to cities post-legalization

Municipal governments are lobbying their provincial counterparts to outline how much money will be allocated to cities post-legalization, with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) stating that the proposed legislation puts cities on the “front lines of keeping Canadians safe and served.” Mayors across the country have highlighted administration, law enforcement and policing as general areas for funding but are yet to disclose specifics on how much money they want and where it will be distributed.

The federal government announced that it would give provinces 75 percent of all tax revenues from cannabis on December 11, an increase from the initial suggestion of a 50-50 split with the federal government. And while Canadian Press reported that the figures were adjusted specifically to help municipalities cope with the impact of legalizing recreational pot, there will be no federally-mandated limit for how much should go to municipalities. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has said that cities will not get direct funding from federal tax but will have to negotiate their share from the provincial government’s tax stream.

Meanwhile, the FCM wants cities to receive a full third of all recreational pot revenues direct from the government. It estimates that each city will need between $3 and 4.75 million dollars per 500,000 people per year, of which $0.75 to 1.5 million would go to municipal administration and the rest to policing. The upper limit of their range entitles Toronto to $25.95 million and Montreal to $16.18 million a year.

In line with the FCM recommendations, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi is asking for $12 million dollars to cover costs from federal and provincial governments, and Quebec City’s Regis Labeaume and Montreal’s Valérie Plante said in early December that they wanted one third of provincial pot taxes to be earmarked for Quebec’s cities, emphasising potential “social issues” in their pitch to the prime minister. Phillippe Couillard is pushing back, and has said the figure should be based on estimates, not blanket percentages, according to a report in Radio Canada.

Detailed outlines of what cities intend to do with this cannabis tax revenue stream have not been included in the majority of statements put out by mayors to date. Toronto mayor John Tory has spoken about needing money for policing, social services and zoning enforcement, but his office is yet to clarify more specifically how much they need and where it will be invested. A statement issued by Mississauga’s mayor Bonnie Crombie identified zoning, by-law enforcement, licencing, public health and policing as “cost pressures” but did not elaborate further.

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