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

Surrey Community Leader Awards winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Heights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

White Rock developer seeks legal opinion

Previously-approved 12-storey projects under study by current council

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read

l -->