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Minister Carole James that B.C. is still losing money on legal cannabis due to its regulatory and enforcement costs are out of date.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

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Global Village Nanaimo recently opened for the fall at 6581 Aulds Rd. near Home Depot. (Photo submitted)
Non-profit fair-trade store in Nanaimo offering new ways to shop

Global Village Nanaimo open until Dec. 24 on Aulds Road

Conservation officers hope the public can provide information about who shot and left a bull and cow Roosevelt elk near Spruston Road, south of Nanaimo. (Photo: Facebook)
Pair of Roosevelt elk shot and left in woods south of Nanaimo

Conservation officers hope public can help find who killed the animals near Spruston Road

Police in Nanaimo hope the public can help find Ovidiu Bezdan, wanted for mischief and assault. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo man wanted for throwing merchandise at convenience store clerk

Police in Nanaimo hope public can help find Ovidiu Bezdan, wanted for assault and mischief

Mariah Charleson, Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council vice-president, left, was among those voicing support for Mi’kmaq lobster harvesters in Nova Scotia that are seeing their catch dumped and taken and property damaged. A solidarity rally was held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Oct. 22. (Karl Yu/Nanaimo News Bulletin)
Solidarity rally in Nanaimo sees support for Mi’kmaq lobster fishers

Indigenous people and supporters gather at Maffeo Sutton Park Thursday

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Two men were stranded on Snake Island after their small boat was blown away by strong winds Wednesday. (News Bulletin file photo)
Boat blows away, stranding fishermen on Snake Island in the strait near Nanaimo

Marine search and rescue team picked up men on windy afternoon Wednesday

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read