On Monday, October 15, the province announced the Municipal Cannabis Transition Program (MCTP) as a means to assist municipalities cover the costs related to the federal legalization of cannabis for recreational use, which comes into effect today.
Much to our dismay, the funding is a two-year, conditional grant program that offers limited funding to municipalities over 5,000 that pay for policing. Municipalities under 5,000 will receive nothing, despite the costs they will have incurred already and will continue to incur. This is simply not acceptable as it means that property tax payers will subsidize the legalization.
Immediately following the announcement, AUMA issued a news release outlining our concerns with the MCTP. This information, along with sample letters to MLAs, draft articles and key messages, was sent directly to mayors and CAOs as part of a call for our members to be vocal in their concerns with the MCTP. (Didn’t get this package? Email email@example.com for a copy to be sent to you.)
Public response shows people don’t understand the impacts to municipalities because “pot will be legal.” We know there will be impacts and we have already experienced them, from researching and debating local bylaws on public consumption of cannabis, updating land use documents, and dealing with appeals of business permits for cannabis retail operations. There will be ongoing costs, including education of local rules, dealing with complaints, even dealing with disposing of materials including littering of smoking materials. These costs and more are included in the cannabis cost-tracking tool AUMA developed in consultation with our members.
We need a commitment from the province for a fair-share of the cannabis funding as directed by the federal government when they considered the increase of the provincial share from 50 per cent to 75 per cent. The Federal Government’s General Principles as part of the Federal- Provincial-Territorial Agreement on Cannabis Taxation states: “This tax room will be shared on the following basis: 75 per cent to provincial and territorial governments; 25 per cent to the federal government. Provinces and territories will work with municipalities according to shared responsibilities towards legalization.”
What we need you to do:
- Use the tools we provided you in the email from AUMA President Barry Morishita on October 15 (contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you need this information re-sent to you):
- Write to your MLA and ask that the province rescind the MCTP and come back to the table with AUMA to develop a proper agreement on excise tax revenue sharing with municipalities.
- Connect with your local media and share the impacts of legalization on your community using real-life examples (e.g. increasing enforcement officers, local education programs, etc.).
- Use the AUMA Cannabis Legalization Cost-Tracking Tool and share with us your best estimate of costs for the first year by emailing your completed tool to email@example.com. We will use this information to validate to the province the costs you anticipate and why the MCTP funding is inadequate.