Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Author: Paul Morden
Page: A1


Sarnia mayor says municipalities will feel impact of legalization

Lambton County council is asking the federal and provincial
governments to share tax money they'll gain from marijuana sales once
they become legal next July.

Council recently backed Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley's call for
municipalities to seek a portion of taxes earned from recreational
marijuana sales to help communities deal with the social and economic
impacts of the legislation.

This week, Toronto Mayor John Tory sent Premier Kathleen Wynne a
letter asking the city and province work out an agreement on sharing
future marijuana revenue.

Bradley said the issue also came up more than a year ago at a meeting
of southwestern Ontario mayors.

"It only makes sense, if you look at the fact there is a direct impact
back on communities, particularly the changes that will have to be
made in policing," he said.

When Ontario began opening casinos and slots operations around the
province several years ago, Bradley was part of a group of mayors that
negotiated a deal with the province to give host communities a five
per cent share of gambling revenues.

"It took a year-and-a-half to do it, because their original position
was zero," Bradley said.

"There's a stronger case here, because the issues that will arise from

Municipalities and their taxpayers shouldn't be expected to absorb the
costs of dealing with those issues, Bradley said. "I do believe that
there's a responsibility to share in what is a windfall for them."

The federal government is planning to legalize recreational use of
cannabis next July but it will be up to the provinces to decide how it
will be distributed and sold, what public places it will be allowed
and whether the minimum age to buy it will be higher than 18.

"I think their deadline is incredible ambitious," Bradley said. "That
time frame is less than a year away, and yet at the municipal level we
haven't received anything about distribution, consultation."

Issues for municipalities include how recreational marijuana will
impact impaired driving, and how local police services will have to
respond, he said.

There are also questions about how decisions the province makes on
distributing marijuana fit local municipal zoning rules.

"I'm not opposed to the decision," Bradley said.

But, he added he is opposed to the level of government facing the most
issues from legalization not receiving a share of the tax revenue.

"The impacts will be here and they will be significant, so there
should be funds to assist us deal with those impacts."
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