North Cowichan, along with numerous other local governments in B.C., is looking for 50 per cent of the province’s share of anticipated sales tax revenue from the sale of marijuana, once it becomes legal this summer.
Council decided at its meeting on Dec. 20 to send a letter to the province after receiving a letter from Doug Findlater, mayor of West Kelowna, that was sent to all local governments in B.C.
Findlater said that with cannabis sales becoming legal, there must be a formal agreement that will divide the tax revenue from sales in a “fair and equitable manner”.
He said current discussions regarding revenue sharing involve the federal and provincial governments with no inclusion of local governments.
“Ultimately, the legalization will entail additional costs for local governments, both in social and policing costs,” Findlater said.
“A Federation of Canadian Municipalities paper is stating that impact may affect policing, fire services, building codes, city planning, municipal licensing and standards, public health, social services, communications and more.”
Findlater said the request for 50 per cent of the province’s share of anticipated sales tax revenue from pot sales is an “adequate and equitable share” to help support costs and services incurred by local governments.
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North Cowichan Mayor John Lefebure said that while his council has yet to have a thorough study of the issue, Findlater’s assessment seems to be accurate.
“We do know there will be significant costs to policing and in other areas, and a good chunk of the financial and other responsibilities will fall to local governments,” he said.
“Council felt that, without a lot of scrutiny, asking for 50 per cent of the revenues is defensible.”