Stop the Violence BC was back at the Nelson city council table last week as politicians passed a motion to support the Union of British Columbia Municipalities resolution.
The resolution that was passed in Victoria at the annual convention in late-September read, “that UBCM call on the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana.”
“I’m very satisfied with the outcome,” said councillor Donna Macdonald who brought a motion on Stop the Violence BC to council in June. “I think the discussion and debate at the UBCM gave comfort to some of the councillors who were struggling with this motion previously.”
When the motion was brought forward in June, Macdonald was hoping council and Mayor John Dooley would write a letter in support of the Stop the Violence BC campaign.
The motion faced opposition in June when it was presented. A heated debate and conversation errupted around the council table.
The scene was different last week and there was little conversation as Macdonald presented an amended motion, which was passed by council.
“I would say the content of the new motion is very much the same,” said Macdonald. “I just reframed the motion to reflect the resolution from the UBCM convention.”
The motion was that council endorse the resolution passed by the UBCM.
Dooley, who said he would “go to the wall” if council passed the original motion, said he wished it had gone to UBCM in the first place.
“That is where I really wanted it to go,” he said following last week’s council meeting. “I spoke to it at the time the original motion was presented and councillor [Robin] Cherbo did as well, and I think the outcome was good.”
Many of the questions presented at the June council meeting were brought up in September at the UBCM convention, and Dooley felt they would be addressed as the conversation continues.
“It’s one of those issues that people are going to want to hear answers to as to how it impacts them directly,” he said.
Some of the questions Dooley believes will come up from the public are on actual costs saved by decriminalization and legalization for policing, and if municipalities would actually see a return on the taxation.
“We know from experience that taxation collected by the province and the feds generally doesn’t filter back to municipalities and if it does we know it’s about eight cents on every dollar that is collected that actually gets back to us,” he said.
As for the next steps, Dooley said “don’t hold your breath” about seeing change with the current federal government.
“I’m glad we’re having the conversation and it is in the right forum now,” he said. “They have experience, the funds and will be able to get the right people involved to move the province to looking at it and in turn moving the feds to looking at it is well, but it’s not likely they’ll budge on this.”
Macdonald agreed that change isn’t likely given the current Conservative government, but said eventually government will need to reflect the building momentum from the grassroots.
“Certainly we have heard Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper say he’s not interested, so that’s fine,” she said. “There will be a federal election at some point. The government could change. I’m not expecting the law to change in the next year or so, I don’t think anyone is, but change is brewing and the government will have to take notice eventually.”