Small communities are on the hook for any extra costs that may occur with the legalization of cannabis.
In October, the provincial government announced $11.2 million of funding for municipalities as part of the Municipal Cannabis Transition Program (MCTP) grant. The money is to be handed out over the next two years and is available for communities of more than 5,000 people who pay for their own police forces.
With the guidelines set, small towns like Gibbons will not receive any funding, but may experience an increase in costs.
"If you look at (legalization), the government is bringing in revenue and the big catch is if you're under 5,000 people and don't pay for policing, but we pay for the soft services," said mayor Dan Deck. "Our Gibbons Family Resource Centre, who provides help to people in need. Food bank, family violence, addiction services and everything else that can go along with alcohol, drugs and poverty."
According to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), over 215 urban municipalities will be forced to cover legalization costs on their own, while only 52 towns, cities and urban service areas will receive funding.
“We are extremely disappointed with this announcement,” said AUMA president Barry Morishita. “Hundreds of Alberta communities are being forced to choose between hiking property taxes or putting public safety at risk and that is unacceptable."
Morishita and the AUMA are advocating for municipalities to receive a "fair share" of the province’s excise tax revenues and to have costs be taken from taxes collected during cannabis sales, rather than municipal budgets.