Pubdate: Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Source: Metro (Ottawa, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metro
Author: Ryan Tumilty


Municipalities make pitch at Health Canada hearings

Canada's cities don't want Ottawa or the provinces to pass the costs
of dealing with marijuana legalization onto them.

Winnipeg councillors and president of the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities (FCM) Jenny Gerbasi said municipalities are worried
about the cost to get ready for the new regime.

"Our cities and communities are where cannabis will actually be used
and sold and we have to adapt bylaws, programs, policies," she said.

The FCM will present to the House of Commons Committee studying the
marijuana legalization bill on Friday. Dozens of groups have been
presenting to the committee this week, including dispensary owners,
medical users, police agencies and public health departments.

Gerbasi said municipalities know they could have to deal with
licensing and zoning requirements as well as other possible challenges
and they want to be included in the plans.

"We do know that we as the local level of government needs to be at
the table as Ottawa and the provinces move forward on this."

She said the federation is trying to help individual municipalities
prepare, but right now they just don't have enough

She said municipalities don't know what the cost of this will be, but
they don't want those costs to be simply passed along.

"We need to know that there won't be unsustainable new burdens on
local governments," she said. "If there are costs there should also be
revenue coming to address them."

Police agencies speaking to the House of Commons committee this week
called on the government to delay implementation, arguing they won't
be ready by July. The government has rejected that proposal.

Gerbasi didn't call for a delay, but said it's essential the
government include municipalities if they are to have a smooth roll
out of legalization.

"We're working with the situation, it's happening and we're prepared
to get to work."

The federal government's proposed legislation has left it up to
provincial government to decide how marijuana is sold, but set July
2018 as the target for legalization.

Ontario announced last week it intends to sell it through 150
government-run stores.
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