Brock Township is set to receive a small share of provincial funding to assist with the implementation costs of cannabis legalization.
The Province has committed at least $40 million worth of funding to municipalities over the next two years, according to a letter received by township council at Monday’s (Dec. 10) finance committee meeting.
“In early January, the first payment of $15 million will be made to all municipalities on a per household basis, adjusted so that at least $5,000 is provided to each municipality. This will enable all municipalities to proceed with their planned legalization activities,” reads the letter.
“A second payment of $15 million will then be distributed following the deadline for municipalities to opt-out under the Cannabis Licence Act, which is Jan. 22, 2019. Municipalities that have not opted-out as of January 22, 2019 will receive funding on a per household basis, adjusted so that at least $5,000 is provided to each municipality. This funding will support initial costs related to hosting retail storefronts.”
Ward 3 Councillor Walter Schummer noted that all municipalities will receive a portion of the funding, regardless of whether retail operations are ultimately permitted.
“Everybody gets a piece,” he said.
CAO/Clerk Thom Gettinby noted that the Township will receive roughly $6,600 for the first payment though that total will be split evenly with Durham Region.
Municipalities that opt out of allowing retail operations will only receive $5,000 during the second round of payments.
“The Province is setting aside $10 million of the municipal funding to address costs from unforeseen circumstances related to the legalization of recreational cannabis, and priority will be given to municipalities that have not opted-out,” the letter from the Province reads.
“Further details will be provided at a later date.”
The letter continues by noting that municipalities that allow the retail operations will also be eligible for additional funding.
“If Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over the first two years of legalization exceeds $100 million, the Province will provide 50 per cent of the surplus only to municipalities that have not opted-out as of Jan. 22, 2019.”
Municipalities must use this funding to address the costs that directly relate to the legalization of recreational cannabis, including:
- increased enforcement (e.g. police, public health and by-law enforcement, court administration, litigation);
- increased response to public inquiries (e.g. 311 calls, correspondence);
- increased paramedic services;
- increased fire services; and,
- bylaw policy development (e.g. police, public health, workplace safety policy).
The letter notes that the Province is “committed to building a retail system for cannabis sales that will help eliminate the illegal market and is safe and reliable with rules that keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, while keeping our roads safe.”
In addition to the municipal funding, the Province continues to do the following:
- Increase the capacity of law enforcement to help detect drug impaired driving through training. The Province has also created a specialized legal team to support drug impaired driving prosecutions, increased capacity at the province’s Centre of Forensic Sciences, and has created a Cannabis Intelligence Coordination Centre;
- Support local boards of health (public health units) by providing a suite of tools and resources for enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, which includes rules for smoking and vaping of cannabis; and,
- Conduct an integrated public awareness campaign to communicate the rules and regulations for recreational cannabis and educate Ontarians about the health and safety measures in place to protect them.
The municipality launched a survey last week to gauge public opinion on recreational cannabis retailers setting up shop in the township, with the matter expected to come up at township council in the coming weeks.
“A report will be coming to council in early January,” Gettinby noted.
Residents are asked to complete the Township survey by Dec. 31.
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