Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, outgoing president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, speaks to the video-conference session on member resolutions for the provincial government, Victoria, Sept. 23, 2020. (UBCM)

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

B.C. local government leaders have voted almost unanimously at their annual convention to call on the province to start sharing legal cannabis revenues with them, as Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have done.

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, outgoing president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, was visibly frustrated as she introduced the executive’s now-annual resolution on cannabis revenue sharing. She cited sales and tax figures that show B.C. is reaping millions from its monopoly wholesale and tax revenues as cannabis stores continue to open in communities around the province.

The latest data suggest previous claims by Finance Minister Carole James that B.C. is still losing money on legal cannabis due to its regulatory and enforcement costs are out of date.

“Notably, during the most recent fiscal year, the province collected $14.4 million in excise tax revenue, more than double its projection,” Tait told delegates at the convention Sept. 23. “This current fiscal year, the province expects to collect more than $90 million in revenue from the excise tax, and the additional 15 per cent [wholesale] markup as it applies to cannabis. If this continues, the province’s cannabis-related revenue will exceed costs by a large margin.

“This is the fifth year in a row that our membership has considered this resolution, looking for an equitable share of the revenue. It’s time for them to show us the money.”

The 99-per-cent vote in favour was cast by phone or online, as the convention is being broadcast from an almost empty Victoria Conference Centre due to COVID-19 restrictions. B.C. cabinet ministers would normally be hosting hundreds of meetings with local mayors and councillors to hear their concerns directly, but that was abandoned as NDP leader John Horgan called a surprise election on Monday as the convention got underway.

RELATED: Cannabis retailers call for change in B.C. legal sales

RELATED: ‘B.C. Bud’ still underground, Horgan hopes to save it

Tait noted that Ontario has already provided $40 million to local governments, which are dealing with declining business taxes, transit fare revenues and other impacts of the pandemic.

“In B.C., UBCM’s request to negotiate a revenue sharing agreement has been repeatedly declined,” Tait said. “We were asked to prove our costs, so last year we administered a survey to quantify local costs. Survey data, when extrapolated, showed an expected $11.5 million per year in local government incremental costs for the first three years following cannabis legalization.”

Those costs include cannabis enforcement by police and bylaw officers, land use planning, licensing and other duties.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicscannabisUBCM

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
More than 12,000 mail-in ballots received from Parksville Qualicum voters

Elections BC to report final tallies after Nov. 6

The Town of Qualicum Beach to remove St. Andrews Lodge from the waterfront property that will be turned into a public park. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Town of Qualicum Beach to remove old St. Andrews Lodge building

Staff: Cost for renovation could be more than a brand-new house

City of Parksville released a community COVID-19 update, dated Oct. 26. (NEWS file photo)
City of Parksville releases COVID-19 update for community

New provincial health order limits gatherings in homes to immediate household plus ‘safe six’

Retiring local politicians Carole James and Andrew Weaver will receive annual payouts estimated at $87,000 and $34,000, respectively, under the pension plan for outgoing MLAs in B.C., according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. (Black Press Media file photos)
Taxpayer watchdog howling over outgoing MLAs’ pension payouts

Carole James, Andrew Weaver among Island MLAs whose pensions are calculated by taxpayers federation

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read