Pubdate: Tue, 14 Nov 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Megan Stacey
Page: A1


There may be as much as a billion dollars in tax revenue at stake as
Canada readies for legalized marijuana next summer.

The cut for cities? So far, zero. Municipalities may be left in the
cold when it comes to sharing in the cash from legalized pot sales,
with the federal government proposing a 10 per cent excise tax - or $1
per gram, whichever is higher - to be split evenly between the
provinces and the feds.

Little has been said about how many, if any, tax dollars will flow to
cities bearing the burden of costs associated with policing, licensing
and enforcement of marijuana sales after July 1.

Southwestern Ontario leaders are none too pleased.

"Municipalities aren't even in the equation. It's this patronizing
approach that the provinces take," Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said
Monday. "They pass out the gruel when they want to."

He's frustrated municipalities weren't even mentioned in the federal
government's plan for marijuana taxation announced Friday.

Many of the costs and zoning challenges of legalization will naturally
fall to cities, such as London, where legal pot shops are planned as
part of the initial rollout in July 2018.

"Whether that's policing costs, implementation costs, social costs -
we will be the ones that feel the brunt of that pressure," Mayor Matt
Brown said.

An excise tax would be added to pot prices before sales tax under the
federal plan. That means an $8 gram of marijuana would sell for $9
plus HST in Ontario. In total, that gram would cost $10.17 with excise
and sales tax.

Liberal MP and former Toronto police chief Bill

Blair, who's been tasked with helming the government's pot plans, said
the total revenue, including excise duty and sales tax, could reach $1
billion. The Association of Municipalities of Ontario is advocating
for cities and towns to get their fair share. "We're going to see the
brunt of the work in (legalization). So we're telling both levels of
government that we're going to be needing some resources to go with
the responsibility we're going to be given," Lynn Dollin, president of
AMO, said Monday. London North Centre Liberal MP Peter Fragiskatos hit
back against the criticism, saying the federal government is paying
attention to the needs of municipalities.

"We are actively listening," he said. "We are not ignoring the
concerns of cities."

It's much too soon to be ringing alarm bells, Fragiskatos said,
pointing out that Friday's announcement kicked off a month-long
consultation period on the proposed tax plan.

Provincial and federal finance ministers are slated to meet in the
nation's capital after consultation closes Dec. 7.

For Southwestern Ontario mayors such as Bradley, the frustration lies
in the unknown.

"We're in a cloud of smoke right now trying to figure out what's going
to happen," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt