Premier John Horgan speaks at the 2017 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver. (Jesse Yuen/UBCM)

Pot, taxes and Greyhound top issues as B.C. local politicians dig into policy

Debate and voting begin in earnest at this year’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler

Cannabis revenue-sharing, the NDP’s payroll tax, and how to replace Greyhound bus service are among the top issues to be debated over the next few days at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

Hundreds of councillors and mayors have descended on Whistler for the annual convention, to vote on a higher than usual number of resolutions this year as they try to curry favour with voters ahead of October’s local election.

“The revenue-sharing is a final piece we haven’t been able to land on,” said UBCM president Wendy Booth referring to when marijuana becomes legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

The main resolution asks for 40 per cent of the initial $125 million in revenue to be shared with municipalities for the first two years after legalization. Anything in excess of that would be shared 50-50.

The money would be distributed on a per capita basis, with all communities getting at least $10,000.

Also top of mind will be the NDP’s “employer health tax,” set to take effect next year.

A resolution from Lower Mainland politicians calls on the province to make the transition – from MSP premiums to a payroll tax –“cost neutral,” as many municipalities have been forced to increase property taxes to pay for it.

The resolution says municipalities with payrolls of more than $1.5 million will pay the highest rate of payroll tax, 1.95 per cent, effectively doubling their payroll costs for next year. It calls for cities and towns to get the same “selected tax breaks” given to private sector organizations.

However, Finance Minister Carole James said earlier this week municipalities should not to expect any relief on the payroll tax, nor to expect too much on cannabis revenue-sharing.

READ MORE: B.C. keeping purse strings tight as municipalities seek relief

READ MORE: Payroll, speculation tax top municipal agenda for B.C.

A final big talker this year is likely to be Greyhound’s impending pullout from everywhere except Quebec and Ontario.

Communities like Lillooet have asked the province to look at rail service to replace some soon-to-be cut bus routes.

“It is such a vital link for communities get from A to B, whether it be for visiting family or friends or the shipping of goods and medical appointments,” said Booth, adding that the UBCM convention is a time for smaller, more rural communities to get face-time with government.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cranbrook introduces draft cannabis bylaws

As legalization date approaches, there remains more questions than answers, say staff

More burning prohibitions rescinded in southeast B.C.

Category 2 and 3 fires will be permitted in Southeast Fire Centre as of 1p.m. on Wednesday.

UPDATED: Pratt to be acclaimed as Cranbrook mayor

Mayor will serve another term after running unopposed in the upcoming municipal election

Baseball bat assault sends one to hospital

Cranbrook police investigating after home invasion over the weekend

Watch: 55+ B.C. Games Closing Ceremony

The Kimberley/Cranbrook 55+ B.C. Games have officially come to an end.

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

Cyclists finish North America trip to highlight Ukraine struggle

The 10,000 bike ride raised over $10,000 for victims of the war in Ukraine.

21 new paramedics promised for B.C. Interior

A total of 18 new full-time paramedics will be hired for Kamloops and three are being hired for Chase.

Federal stats show slight increase in irregular migrant claims in August

113 extra people tried to cross the Canadian border last month

Work begins to remove cargo from grounded Haida Gwaii barge and fishing lodge

Westcoast Resorts’ Hippa Lodge broke from its moorings and ran aground early this month

Tilray to export cannabis formulation to U.S. for clinical trial

Marijuana remains illegal in most of the U.S.

Court of appeal grants injunction on Taseko’s exploratory drilling in B.C. Interior

The decision provides temporary protection and relief, said Chief Joe Alphonse

Most Read