Rookie mayors balk at UBCM legal pot vote

Marvelled that the delegates would waste their time on an issue over which they have no jurisdiction

The “rookie” mayors of Campbell River and Courtenay are “disappointed” that their fellow Union of BC Municipalities delegates have voted in favour of the decriminalization marijuana.

Attending their first UBCM convention Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway and Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula voted against the contentious resolution and marvelled that the delegates would waste their time on an issue over which they have no jurisdiction.

“I’m disappointed,” Jakeway said, “it’s going to make policing even tougher.”

Jakeway said the vote was rushed before a lunch break and the show of hands was too close to a tie to be definitive. Delegates had electronic voting devices, but for some reason they weren’t used. Resolution A5, brought forward by the municipality of Metchosin, called on the UBCM to lobby the appropriate level of government to decriminalize cannabis and research its regulation and taxation.

“It’s not a critical issue for the UBCM,” Jakeway said. “It’s not a municipal government issue and whether we vote or not is not going to make any difference to senior governments.”

He added: “There are 200 resolutions on the agenda and a lot of them have nothing to do with our cities. We need to get back to our core purposes instead of getting sidetracked by special interest group resolutions.”

Jangula said: “I’m embarrassed to belong to the UBCM and I’m embarrassed about the message we’ve sent to organized crime and to the whole country … that we’re condoning this criminal activity and that somehow if we decriminalize marijuana that organized crime is going to close its doors.

“We spend too much of our taxpayers money debating things that are not part of our mandate. This whole thing is divisive. It doesn’t change anything.”

Both mayors participated in the deliberations of the Mayors’ Caucus, a splinter group of 140 mayors that is flexing its muscle over infrastructure issues.

“We get eight per cent of the taxes collected in this country and we have 65 per cent of the infrastructure. That is a very lopsided equation and a recipe for disaster,” Jangula said. Jakeway said federal and provincial cost sharing funds for infrastructure projects need to be co-ordinated so that municipalities can plan properly.