Pubdate: Thu, 03 Aug 2017
Source: Peterborough Examiner, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Peterborough Examiner
Author: David Goyette
Page: A4


One year ago this month, I wrote in this space about the likely
financial impact on the City of Peterborough of the federal
government's decision to legalize marijuana next July.

That same month, four Peterborough city councillors - Dean Pappas, Don
Vassiliadis, Lesley Parnell and Keith Riel - attended the Association
of Municipalities of Ontario conference where the legalization of
marijuana and its impact on cities had been a key focus. I offered the
urging that, on their return, these councillors make the public case
that cities like ours should be parties to the change; that the city
should invite the federal Task Force to meet with municipal staff,
councillors and the community; and that the councillors exercise some
political muscle so that we could secure funding for the new marijuana
costs that will undoubtedly come our way. No action was taken.

Last month, Toronto Mayor John Tory took up the cause in a letter to
Ontario Premier Wynne. He asked her to meet to work out an agreement
to share tax revenues from marijuana sales in order to cover new city
costs, floating the idea of a "special levy" on marijuana sales
similar to those in place in a number of cities in states such as
California, Colorado and Massachusetts. The mayors of Saskatoon and
Regina also came forward this summer with similar proposals.

Here is part of what Mayor Tory wrote to the premier: "I am certain
that a big part of the enforcement of these regulations will be on the
shoulders of municipalities, whether through licensing, zoning bylaws
or municipal policing. I have no doubt that the result will be
increased costs for the City of Toronto ... we would want to discuss
with you what the magnitude of these costs might be and reach an
agreement with you on both increased public health funding and a
dedicated share of increased provincial revenues attributable to the
sale of marijuana."

This is the action I was hoping for in Peterborough and here is its
rationalization. The legalization of marijuana could have a
significant regulatory impact on city responsibilities in Peterborough
in at least four areas.

First, although the number of marijuana-related arrests should
decrease, new police resources may be required in the short term for
the enforcement of new laws and regulations, including the decision to
permit the growing of marijuana plants at home. Second, public
education and awareness campaigns focused on marijuana risks such as
driving will likely become the responsibility of the local public
health unit. Similarly, school boards can be expected to offer new
youth education and service programs.

Third, there may be zoning regulation required for the definition and
operation of new marijuana retail operations, as well as Official Plan
policies relating to the location and distance separation of marijuana
businesses from land uses such as schools. Fourth, should private
distribution channels be permitted outside of the LCBO, there may be
new licensing requirements for the operation and performance of
marijuana dispensaries. It is a virtual certainty that the city will
have additional costs; those costs need to be covered by or shared
with the senior governments whose actions created them.

There are times when it is right for city council to rise above its
routines, rattling the cage and throwing a few stones so that Queen's
Park knows it is a player and that there are consequences to
provincial actions or inactions. This is one of those times. The city
deserves a fair share of marijuana revenues; here's hoping that
someone in public office will speak up about it.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt