The Regional District of Nanaimo is asking for a fair share of the pie when it comes to tax revenues from an impending marijuana legalization bill.
According to an RDN staff report, Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, is anticipated to take effect July, and currently proposes taxation of the greater of $1 per gram or 10 per cent of final retail price, with revenue to be divvied up equally between provinces and the federal government. It is not clear whether monies will be allocated to local governments, however.
The RDN is awaiting word from provincial and federal governments as it prepares its own legislation and its electoral area services committee is recommending seven Cannabis Act-related motions, including one for “equitable sharing of tax revenues from cannabis between all orders of government.”
The report suggests the implications that could affect the regional district relate to enforcement of zoning regulations for retail sales and production facilities and enforcement related to usage at local government facilities, and Bill Veenhof, regional district board chairman, said it is all about equity.
According to Veenhof, the regional district’s only expectation is that any costs incurred due to the legislation will be covered by taxes.
“I’ve always been clear that the cost that end up being downloaded to local governments, because of the rules that they’ve enacted, should be covered through the taxation process and so it’s not a money grab we’re looking at, but we’re looking at fair play,” said Veenhof.
The committee also recommends adequate funding be provided to cover any increased responsibilities and burden borne out of “any provincial framework that requires local government participation.”
Veenhof anticipates the matter to go before the board sometime in December.
In an e-mail, the B.C. Ministry of Finance said provinces must bear the majority of costs from the decision to legalize and the revenue division between levels of government must reflect this. The province is in the midst of negotiations with the federal government on the proposed tax framework.
Jocelyn Sweet, Department of Finance Canada deputy spokesperson, said the Canadian government will work with partners and consult with Canadians on the tax framework. Public consultation will take place until Dec. 7.