Councils welcome taxation policy
North Okanagan communities could harvest tax revenue from medical marijuana facilities.
The provincial government is excluding federally licensed medical marijuana production from the list of agricultural uses that qualify for farm classification for assessment and property tax purposes.
“It’s about time,” said Kevin Acton, Lumby mayor, who had been concerned that the possibility of a medical marijuana facility on agricultural or industrial zoned land would pay the lower farm rate and not help cover the cost of municipal services.
“It’s not an agricultural crop and it’s not something we’re producing for food.”
The provincial policy is also welcome news in Spallumcheen.
“We did not want the possibility for facilities to be on industrial land and taxed at the farm rate or be on agricultural land and taxed at the farm rate,” said Greg Betts, the township’s chief administrative officer.
One medical marijuana facility has been approved by the federal government in Spallumcheen, and Betts insists such operations will place pressure on municipal services.
“There’s fire and police,” he said, adding that tax revenue from such a facility will ease the burden on the rest of taxpayers.
“The expectation of people for services is going up and the desire to pay for them is going down.”
For Lumby, the possibility of a medical marijuana facility could be substantial as there is little industrial activity and most of the tax base is residential.
“It could make a big difference if we get a few facilities we can tax,” said Acton.
There are currently five facilities in B.C. licensed by the federal government.
“B.C.’s position (on taxation) takes into consideration the nature of the highly regulated and secure facilities and is consistent with the approach being taken in neighbouring Alberta,” states a release from the Ministry of Community Development.