KAMLOOPS — The mayor of Kamloops says the city should be receiving tax revenue when cannabis is officially legalized by the federal government.
It comes after the mayor of Sicamous sent a letter to Victoria, lobbying the province for at least a 50 per cent tax share to municipalities that may be burdened by the changes. Terry Rysz is hopeful other municipalities around B.C. will support his lobbying effort to have the province share in the pot of revenue that will come from cannabis.
"50 per cent is the minimum. There's lots of municipalities that feel it should be 100 per cent," said Rysz. "We're the ones that are responsible for dealing with cannabis in our communities, and so it should be that we get the proper allocation on taxation when it comes to selling cannabis."
Rysz sent a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, asking for a 50 per cent split in revenues between the province and its municipalities. Mayor Ken Christian says 50 per cent for a city of Kamloops may even be a low request.
"There will be costs that municipalities are going to have to incur and I don't feel our taxpayers should be on the hook for that and I think the provincial government and federal government need to recognize that a lot of heavy lifting is going to fall to muncipalities," said Christian.
Christian doesn't know what the magic number should be for Kamloops. He leaving that up to the Union of B.C Municipalities.
"I'm not so sure that 50 per cent is the correct number and I'm also not sure that the costs would be equitable between smaller and mid-size and large communities," said Christian. "So I think we need to leave this to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to negotiate on behalf of all municipalities."
Under legalization, the federal government will get 25% of the tax revenues, while the provinces will share the rest, 75% of the cannabis income. Regardless of how it's split exactly, Rysz said municipalities will need the revenues just to cover basic costs.
"We're not really quite sure about what the impact is going to be at this stage, but we're suspecting it," he noted. "Especially when it comes to the larger communities when it comes to the policing side of this, and the health care and social impacts."
In Kamloops, Christian noted the city has already incurred costs around the illegal pot shops that have been popping up.
"Some of the zoing bylaw revisions, some of the business license bylaw revisions, a lot of the policing costs that Kamloops bares and other smaller municipalities don't. Then we're going to see a whole host of things like security, clearance to make sure that organized crimes stays out of the retail marijuana industry."
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