British Columbia

Municipalities say they're still waiting for their share of cannabis cash

UBCM president and Sooke mayor Maja Tait says it's time the province shares some of the cash collected on cannabis sales with municipalities because they're the ones bearing the brunt of the costs of implementing and policing legalization.

UBCM has advocated for municipalities to receive 40% of revenue share

The UBCM would like to see 40 per cent of the projected provincial revenue from cannabis given to B.C. local governments. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A year after legalization, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) says it's time the province shares some of the cash collected on cannabis sales with municipalities because they're the ones bearing the brunt of the costs of implementing and policing legalization. 

Maja Tait, the president of UBCM and the mayor of Sooke, says municipalities across the province are shouldering the burden of administration, staffing and policing related to cannabis.

"We are all stretched," Tait said in an interview with host Robyn Burns on All Points West.

A survey of 34 communities found that those municipalities were expecting to pay $15.2 million in operating costs. 

The UBCM has advocated for municipalities to receive 40 per cent of the revenue share from cannabis sales, which Tait says would be distributed fairly on a per-capita basis, with all municipalities and regional districts receiving a minimum of $10,000 regardless of population.

Zoom in to see the locations of licensed cannabis stores in B.C. Yellow indicates public stores, orange marks unopened public stores:

 

The Ministry of Justice, which oversees the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, said on Thursday that a little more than $60 million worth of cannabis has been sold in licensed stores since legalization. 

Finance Minister Carole James says her ministry continues to work with municipalities on the topic of revenue sharing. 

"Given the significant costs to the provincial cannabis regulatory framework, we do not expect revenues to exceed initial expenses from cannabis legalization," James said in a statement to CBC News.

"We anticipate B.C.'s share of the federal excise tax from the sale of cannabis to be moderate in the first years of legalization."

Tait says she knows revenue was not at expected levels, but as more licences are approved and edibles come into the market, revenue should go up.

At the same time, some municipalities are struggling to tackle all the administrative needs.

"I think our constituents want to see fairness," she said.

With files from All Points West, Rafferty Baker

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