Pubdate: Wed, 27 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Robert Benzie
Page: A5


As legalization approaches, premier promises to help municipalities
manage costs

Premier Kathleen Wynne insists the province will not let Ontario
cities go to pot once the federal government legalizes marijuana next
July. Wynne emerged from a meeting Tuesday with Greater Toronto and
Hamilton Area mayors and regional chairs promising a clampdown on
illegal storefront "dispensaries" and vowed to help municipalities
cope with weed.

"The federal government's legalization of cannabis, of course, has
implications for the province as we move to administer the rules," the
premier told reporters.

"But the legalization of cannabis by the federal government also has
implications for municipalities and that was the conversation today.
We made it clear that we will work with municipalities."

Wynne admitted there are still many questions Ottawa must answer -
like, how will marijuana will be taxed? - before Queen's Park can
finalize a plan to aid cities with the new costs.

"One of the mayors said . . . will there be licensing fees that we'll
have access to? Will there be the opportunity for municipalities to
raise their own revenues? What will be the resources that will flow
from the provincial level to the municipal level?" she said.

"And, quite frankly, those issues are not all worked out, but they
raised them and, so, that's an important piece of this. The issues
around zoning were raised as well, and, so, we need to work out
exactly what those regimes will be."

It was the premier's first meeting with the mayors and chairs since
the province announced earlier this month that recreational marijuana
would be sold only by the LCBO at up to 150 stores devoted to this
purpose or online.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said he would be convening an
"enforcement summit" with municipal leaders later this fall to discuss
the outlaw shops. "We've been very clear, from the very beginning,
that these pot shops are illegal today and they will remain illegal
once legalization takes place."

"We will bring our ministers, municipal partners, our law enforcement
partners, our police services so that we can determine, as one, as to
what is the best way to make sure that these illegal stores are not in
our communities."

Toronto Mayor John Tory, who has expressed concern at the increased
expenses municipalities will incur once marijuana is legal, said he
was encouraged by Wynne's comments.

"I raised the issue of municipal costs around marijuana legalization
with her directly. Not only will municipalities get almost all of the
calls on any aspect of these laws, complaints, enforcement . . . we
will have to follow up on them, not the OPP or the Ontario
government," Tory said.

"This means we will not only have to have enforcement mechanisms, but
also bylaw enforcement officers. I also pointed out . . . that any
savings accruing because of fewer court cases will accrue to the
province and we will be left with additional costs.

"One of the key points I will be stressing as we work out these
details is that we need this financial support at the beginning of
legalization, whether the province has collected any money from the
sale of marijuana or not."

Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua praised Wynne's "measured approach,"
but cautioned the federal government will have to step up.

"It's obviously a cultural shift in our country. It's going to require
attention, but I think the premier has struck the right chord on this
one," Bevilacqua said.

"There should be some costs attached . . . so they have to find ways
to get that funding to the local municipalities, because, as always,
those are costs we bear."

- - With files from David Rider
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MAP posted-by: Matt