Councillor suggests cutting cannabis costs

A councillor believes the City of Edmonton is spending too much money on cannabis-related costs.

Council has $7 billion to spend in the operating and capital budgets combined, but there is not enough money for every project—like the Lewis Farms Rec Centre. To pay for that, councillors will either have to borrow money or cut costs elsewhere.

Ward 8 Councillor Ben Henderson has an idea of where to start.

“Everybody imagined a big crisis incoming once cannabis got legalized. I don’t think that’s happened.”

The proposed budget includes money for 24 new police officers and eight city staff to deal with cannabis over the next two years. The salaries, plus money for equipment and training, add up to about $7 million.

“I’m struggling as to why we need extra bodies to do that at this point,” Henderson said. “I understand why we thought we would need it, but that doesn't seem to be the way it's playing out.”

City manager Linda Cochrane said it is too soon to cut cannabis enforcement costs.

“If we react too quickly, we’ll be behind the eight ball.”

Councillors will continue to discuss the budget and suggest amendments, which they will vote on in the coming days.

With files from Jeremy Thompson