Mayor applauds AUMA effort on pot laws

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk is applauding the efforts of an organization lobbying for help to offset the costs of cannabis once it becomes legal Oct. 17.

“Any help would be appreciated,” says Panasiuk. “It’s great that they’re doing it.”

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association president Barry Morishita said June 26 his organization was “disappointed” after the federal government’s announcement.

“AUMA has been rigorously advocating on behalf of our members to receive their fair share of the cannabis excise tax to offset the municipal costs, and we had hoped the province would allocate appropriate, fair and equitable funding to municipalities.”

Panasiuk says it’s difficult to tell how much the legalization will cost town council, but adds the brunt of the costs has already been borne with bylaw review meetings and he town hall meeting to prepare legislation.

How much enforcement will be done to enforce the laws is not yet known, but there is a cost.

Meanwhile, AUMA believes the legalization of cannabis for recreational use will have significant fiscal impacts on municipal services such as policing and bylaw enforcement, municipal administration, public health, emergency services, and other services that deal with community impacts.

“Generally, the costs fall into two categories: administration and enforcement,” says Morishita.

“Administrative costs include land use, business licensing, administrative and bylaw enforcement, fire prevention, public health and education, and communications and public engagement.

“Of greater concern for municipalities, though, are the enforcement costs,” he adds.

Cost could include additional staff, additional or new training for drug recognition and drug testing equipment, the purchase of additional equipment.

AUMA has formally requested funding support for legalization that includes 70 per cent of the cannabis excise taxes the province receives from the federal government and a $30 million fund in Budget 2018-19 for transition.

“Despite our attempts to demonstrate the impact legalization will have on municipalities, the province continues to state that the soonest we would see funding would be 2020,” says Morishita, who calls the actions surprising.


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