Municipalities in British Columbia are clamouring to have a say in the marijuana policies they believe will fall largely on their shoulders to enforce when pot becomes legal next summer.
Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang, who is also the city's point person on marijuana, said municipalities have largely been ignored by the federal government, which has so far taken a "father-knows-best approach."
"I think it's a bit of snobbery or haughtiness on the part of the federal government," Jang said.
"The rubber hits the road with us. We'll be the ones having to regulate, enforce whatever the federal laws are through our police, through our zoning, through our business licence processing."
Local government representatives are gathering in Vancouver this week for their annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, and at the top of the agenda is a push to get municipalities at the table in developing the regulatory framework around legalized cannabis.
The first resolution to be considered would direct the group's lobbying efforts to push for:
- Meaningful consultation on legal pot.
- Enough funding to cover policing and regulation costs.
- A fair share of tax revenues.
- Deference to municipalities' rights when it comes to zoning and land-use decisions.
Members endorsed a similar resolution last year.
Municipalities at the convention first voted in favour of decriminalizing pot in 2012.
First vice-president Wendy Booth, who is also a director with the East Kootenay Regional District, said so far there has been little consultation with municipalities by the provincial government.
"It's a pretty complex file and we need to come up with a way that works for all of us in B.C., whether it be large communities or small communities," she said.
Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson said B.C. is "absolutely committed" to including local government in discussions around pot legalization and she expects consultation, support for enforcement and tax sharing to be a part of that conversation.
Besides cannabis, here are some other resolutions up for debate at the municipal leaders' convention, which runs Monday to Friday:
- Metchosin would like the Union of B.C. Municipalities to support a statutory holiday that celebrates First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada, in keeping with a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- Penticton wants to make it possible to recall municipal politicians if voters have a change of heart between local elections.
- Vanderhoof is railing against noise pollution created by trains and wants to establish whistle-free zones.
- Vancouver is in favour of creating a registry and rules restricting municipal lobbyists.
- Parksville's hefty Canada goose population has ruffled the feathers of residents, who want a co-ordinated regional approach to managing the pesky animals, including "population control" measures.
- Maple Ridge is keeping composting top of mind by supporting policy that would require the stickers used to label fruit either produced in Canada or imported into the country to be compostable.
- Sicamous would like the union of municipalities to offer funds to help educate the public on the threat posed by invasive quagga and zebra mussels.
- West Kelowna wants the provincial government to create a B.C.-wide rat reduction strategy after a steady increase in rodent infestation in recent years.