Edmonton mayor wants share of pot revenue to cover extra police costs

Cannabis seedlings at the new Aurora Cannabis facilty Friday, November 24, 2017 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Count Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson among those who have more questions than answers when it comes to how things will change when recreational marijuana becomes legal in July.

Earlier this month, the federal government and the provinces agreed to a 75-25 revenue split, however there’s been no word yet on what will flow to the cities.

READ MORE: Alberta says feds’ marijuana tax plan ‘much better’ than earlier 50-50 share 

There’s been some nervousness within the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) because they’ve heard what the RCMP might get, but not city police agencies. And nationally, Iveson, in his role as chair of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus, said the only figure that’s out there is $81 million in start-up costs from Ottawa.

The mayors, in conversation with the Association of Chiefs of Police, have put together a brief for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Story continues below advertisement

“We think there’s $200 million to $300 million worth of annual cost to municipalities across the country,” Iveson said in his year-end interview with 630 CHED News.

“A lot of that is going to be in our big cities, where activity would be focused. Those costs are mainly driven around enforcement, particularly for policing related to impaired driving.”

WATCH: Proposed changes to Alberta impaired driving laws to include cannabis

Excise taxes should be passed along to cities, Iveson said, to cover off extra costs.

“The obvious answer, if it was up to me, would be to increase the grants and transfers that come to policing now, using this new cannabis revenue as the funding source.

“If they were able to top that up on an evidence basis to say, ‘Here’s where most of the impact is going to be,’ then seeing some of that flow through even with our existing grant structure so that there’d be no additional cost to administer it, then that would be one solution.”

Story continues below advertisement

“I think we’re going to have to carry on that conversation with the province now that they’re going to be getting 75 per cent of it.

“The share that ought to come to municipalities, which of course are creatures of the province, that share we’re going to have to wring loose from the province.”

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci hasn’t shared publicly any figures.

Iveson said Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht hasn’t provided a dollar amount that should be asked for.

Sponsored content