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

ELECTION 18: Langley Township, you chose Jack Froese for mayor

Township voters went with a familiar face, handing incumbent a third term as mayor

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Who won and who didn’t in the Lower Mainland votes

A look at the region’s mayoral races, starting with Doug McCallum coming back to win in Surrey

Celebrating Halloween in the horse capital of B.C.

Langley riders event features riders and horses in costumes

Giants busy on ice in Langley and on the road

A teen goalie helps the squad during a glut of games.

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

The online auction features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, with the sale scheduled for 31 October and 8 November.

In Khashoggi case: Saudi calls, ‘body double’ after killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur waives right to preliminary hearing

Bruce McArthur, a 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, has been ordered to stand trial on eight counts of first-degree murder.

N.B. village faces backlash after council raises ‘straight flag’

Chipman Mayor Carson Atkinson says the flag met the village council’s criteria because it “recognizes, accepts and respects the rights of individuals under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Most Read