By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD
B.C.’s local governments want a piece of the pie when cannabis is legalized, but couldn’t make up their minds today (Sept. 27, 2017) on how to tighten the rules on civic campaign financing.
Resolutions on both those hot-button topics came up as policy sessions opened at the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.
About 2,000 delegates, including a number from the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, Kamloops and other Interior communities, are at the convention.
While a resolution on cannabis went through after relatively short debate, delegates noodled over the campaign financing issue and then sent it back to the UBCM executive for more study.
The resolution on cannabis asks for “fulsome and meaningful provincial consultation” with local governments, and for “equitable sharing” of tax revenues between all levels of government.
The gist of the resolution received little opposition, but several amendments were attempted and rejected as delegates debated whether it was specific enough or some aspects of it were outside provincial jurisdiction.
The question of whether marijuana is a “gateway” drug seemed as though it might surface, but nobody took the bait.
The resolution also asks for provincial funding for any increase in “administrative burden” to local governments, and respect for local choice, jurisdiction and authority, including but not limited to land use and zoning decisions.
The UBCM executive brought forward the resolution in response to what it called “minimal consultation” with local governments on the development and implementation of a B.C. framework for cannabis.
Last year’s convention approved resolutions asking for local government involvement in establishing the regulatory approach to legalization, as well as sharing of tax revenues.
The election campaign financing resolution, submitted by Oak Bay, called for any new provincial restrictions on campaign donations to be extended to local-government campaigns as well.
That brought objections from several delegates who agreed with the sentiment but felt municipalities and regional districts need their own sets of rules because their campaigns operate differently.
In particular, they didn’t want to see public funding of incumbent civic candidates, so Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps moved an amendment to exclude that possibility.
Despite that, those against a “one size fits all” approach decided to refer the resolution back to the executive.
CONVENTION NOTES: Acting Mayor Arjun Singh of Kamloops was confirmed as the incoming first vice president of UBCM…. Former Kamloops councillor Marg Spina, who resigned earlier this year for health reasons, was honored at a Southern Interior Local Government Association luncheon today, though she was unable to attend…. Green party leader Andrew Weaver addressed the convention, extolling the virtues of B.C., but didn’t touch on the controversy around public funding of political parties for election campaigns…. I attended a breakfast meeting with Kinder Morgan, the opening convention session, the policy session and a cabinet “town hall” on economic development…. Cabinet ministers are getting a positive response from delegates as they meet with individual councils and regional boards, make speeches and take part in workshops….