The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is making a strong case for municipalities to get a fair share of the tax revenues from the sale of marijuana when it becomes legal later this year. AMM President Chris Goertzen released some research Thursday on the question of how those tax dollars should be distributed.
"We surveyed 1,000 Manitoba residents and asked them where they think the revenue from cannabis sales should be going when it comes to the taxes that are applied. 59% of people felt that municipalities should get at least half of that revenue. We, as AMM, are asking that the provincial government respect that. We are asking for one-third (of the tax revenues) and we'd like to see that transpire because we have additional costs that are happening for municipalities."
Goertzen says a lot of those increased costs relate to policing, to make sure all officers are trained and have the proper equipment for such things as detecting drug-impaired driving.
"The biggest one is that the costs of policing will be substantial, whether it's training, whether it's equipment and the enforcement. Municipalities bear a large brunt of that cost when it comes to policing and that's a huge challenge for us moving forward. This isn't something that we've decided on. It's a federal government decision and, obviously, we want to make sure that there are enough dollars going toward this so that municipalities are not in a negative situation."
He adds, when cannabis becomes legal, municipalities will also face higher costs in areas related to land use, business licensing and even fire prevention.
Goertzen reiterates municipalities must get a fair share of the tax revenues to cover these expenses.