An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S A SLOW, AWKWARD DANCE going on between politicians and somebody should make the music stop.
It has to do with splitting up the windfall from cannabis taxes. The federal government agreed to give 75 per cent of tax revenue to the provinces. Municipalities are supposed to get a share of the province’s share.
But despite protracted negotiations, municipal governments still don’t have a commitment from the province on how much they’ll be getting.
This is making mayors, including Mayor Ken Christian of Kamloops, impatient. He’s making it very clear that the provincial government needs to make a decision.
One of his councillors is taking a more measured approach. That’s Arjun Singh, who happens to be president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, which is charged with getting the best deal possible for cities.
According to Singh, the UBCM continues to “work collaboratively” with the NDP government toward a formula. The City should be getting impatient with the UBCM as well, but everybody’s trying to strike the right balance of urgency and civility.
What’s taking Victoria and the UBCM so long to get their respective acts together is unclear. They’ve been at it for months. In fact, only three provinces — Ontario, Quebec and Alberta — have reached revenue-sharing agreements with cities, so the problem isn’t restricted to B.C.
Municipalities have to budget for the costs of policing, licensing and zoning associated with legalization, and they need a piece of the pie. Maybe the reality that marijuana tax revenue, while estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, isn’t going to be as much as originally anticipated is part of the delay.
Whatever it is, it’s time for the provincial government to drop the wallflower routine and start writing cheques.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.