Premier Rachel Notley promised Alberta municipalities that the province would provide some funding to help with enforcement and other costs associated with the legalization of cannabis.
“We’ve heard your concerns about funding loud and clear,” she told the crowd Thursday at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association convention in Red Deer.
“We know you need funds up front and we’re going to provide you funds up front.”
That statement was met with applause.
“Very soon we’ll be making an announcement as to what that initial funding looks like and how that funding will be reviewed on an ongoing basis,” Notley said. “We’re working together as partners.”
The premier said the funds would be provided within a matter of weeks, in time for the Oct. 17 legalization date.
“We need to figure out what the right amount is,” Notley said.
“Our government has already projected that it’s a loss to us for the first couple of years so additional funding to municipalities is a bit of a challenge, but at the same time we know that they’re going to be presented with challenges.
“So we’re going to look into some of the cost estimates that they’ve suggested. We’re also going to be looking at the funding patterns that we’re seeing in other jurisdictions. Quebec and Ontario have already come out with funding so we’ll see where we land on that.”
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson was happy to hear confirmation of support from the province. He was in Yellowknife Thursday to take part in the annual Banff Forum public policy conference.
“I’m very pleased to hear… that the province has heard our concerns about cannabis and intends to provide some relief to municipalities.
“It’s been a huge cost for us already with training and with hiring peace officers and dealing with impaired enforcement issues, which are just around the corner for policing.”
While the exact funding model or amounts haven’t been determined, Iveson said he would like to see the city’s real costs covered and has provided the province with a breakdown of costs associated with cannabis legalization and enforcement.
“It remains to be seen whether what they provide will be sufficient to cover all of our costs. Our goal was never to make money off this.
“Our goal was to make sure that property tax payers aren’t on the hook for real costs that have already become part of our budget. We’d like to see relief.”
“We’re tracking every last penny, including training the police — which we were doing earlier this year, which we’d like to see some recovery on — because we’ve been working hard to get ready and again, we just don’t think property tax payers should be on the hook for any of it.”