Current Policy Initiatives
UBCM wrote to the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation, providing past UBCM resolutions and policy direction on the topic, as set by the UBCM membership. UBCM requested that as part of the federal process, the Task Force give consideration to resolutions and policy development by UBCM related to the legalization of marijuana.
Released in 2013, the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR) took effect on April 1, 2014. The regulatory framework administered by Health Canada provides for a limited number of licenced, third party marijuana producers, with each licence issued for a minimum of three years. This departs from the previous system of licences issued to individuals to produce medical marijuana in private dwellings.
Under the MMPR, applicants for a producer’s licence are required to notify local government, police force and fire officials of their intention to apply to Health Canada, so that local authorities are aware of the proposed location and production activities.
UBCM had previously requested [PDF - 254 KB] that Health Canada establish a protocol under the MMPR, to ensure that any proposed location for growing medical marijuana would be in compliance with all local bylaws and all electrical, fire, health, building and safety regulations prior to Health Canada issuing a license.
Since the introduction of the MMPR, several changes have occurred with respect to both medical marijuana and marijuana for recreational use:
- Medical marijuana users received a temporary injunction that allows individual Health Canada licence holders to continue producing marijuana in private dwellings, until a constitutional challenge can be heard in the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC);
- The MMPR permitted only the "dried" form of marijuana to be produced, distributed or possessed for medical purposes. However, on June 11, 2015, the SCC declared sections 4 and 5 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act null and void, with the result that Health Canada now allows licencees to produce and sell cannabis oils, fresh buds and leaves.
- Several municipalities in British Columbia, including the City of Vancouver, have made the decision to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Additionally, the UBCM membership endorsed resolution 2015-B98, asserting local government authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau included in his platform the legalization of marijuana. In support of this platform position, selected federal Cabinet mandate letters propose the creation of a “federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana”.
UBCM continues to monitor developments regarding medical as well as recreational usage of marijuana.
On behalf of local governments, UBCM engages on a range of issues that affect the provision of police services in BC. The Police Services page provides detailed information about each of these files:
- RCMP labour relations
- RCMP Auxiliary Constable Program
- police funding
- RCMP Contract five year review; and
- DNA analysis costs to local governments.
Provincial Liquor Policy
Changes Taking Effect on January 23, 2017
On March 26, 2015, the Province introduced new legislation that included a re-write of the liquor legislation in British Columbia. The Liquor Control and Licensing Act (Bill 27) received third reading, and was passed on April 23, 2015. The Act will come into force on January 23, 2017, along with a list of policy changes that are discussed at length in this provincial document [PDF - 158 KB].
Local Government Liquor Q&A Section
The Province has produced an updated document [PDF - 106 KB] to answer frequently asked questions and concerns by local governments and First Nations related to liquor policy and licensing in British Columbia.
Special Occasion Licences
The Province released a discussion paper [PDF - 159 KB] regarding potential options to permit businesses to apply for Special Occasion Licences. Local governments were invited to provide input on the discussion paper.
Questions or concerns may be addressed to Josh Huska, project lead, at 250-952-5794.
Consumption in Designated Public Places
The provincial government sought local government feedback on a Liquor Control and Licensing Act provision that enables local governments, by bylaw, to designate an area or public place within their jurisdiction where alcohol could be consumed.
The Province sought feedback from local governments on three liquor policy issues:
- changes to the manufacturer’s endorsements;
- the parallel process for liquor primary and similar applications; and
- policy related to liquor primary clubs.
Two background documents were provided to assist local governments interested in providing feedback.
Local Government Working Group on Liquor Policy
Meeting Summary [PDF - 339 KB] - Dec 2015
Provincial Liquor Policy Review Process
On September 25, 2013, members of the UBCM Executive met with John Yap, MLA, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. During the meeting, UBCM outlined the policy position of the UBCM membership regarding several facets of British Columbia's liquor laws.
In January 2014, the Province released the Liquor Policy Review Final Report, with the provincial Cabinet supporting all 73 of the report's recommendations for change. The Province has since begun a gradual implementation of the recommendations, and had implemented 35 recommendations as of December 1, 2015. To facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, the Province and UBCM have established a Local Government Working Group on Liquor Policy to consider concerns and feedback, and develop future liquor policy.
Emergency Program Act Review
The Emergency Program Act provides the legislative framework for the management of disasters and emergencies in British Columbia.
The provincial government invited local government input on this legislative framework via a review process. The Emergency Program Act Review page provides significant information about the review process and about the Act.
The UBCM Executive has endorsed a provincial discussion paper and proposed call answer levy, subject to an agreement with the Province on the establishment of an independent body for revenue administration. The provincial government continues to engage with local governments regarding 9-1-1 services.
The 9-1-1 Services in BC page provides background information about 9-1-1 services, as well as information about the levy being proposed by the Province.
Please refer to Funding Programs for information on funding programs administered by UBCM in support of community safety initiatives.
The Community Safety Committee oversees policy development on community safety issues facing local government, such as:
- Justice and policing
- RCMP contract/own force policing/auxiliary policing
- Mental health
- Court services
- Police Act and other relevant legislation
- DNA analysis costs
- Crime prevention
- Liquor policy
- Fire services
- Medical marijuana policy
- Local government action with regards to dispensaries
- Federal policies surrounding access to marijuana
- Supreme Court of Canada rulings
- Other issues including 9-1-1 services, animals in distress, keep of prisoners, bylaw enforcement, crime prevention, gaming, emergency services, metal theft, and flood protection.
Bhar Sihota, Policy Analyst
604 270 8226 ext. 114