The City of Vancouver is calling on the BC Government for a $200 million emergency grant.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.
The City of Vancouver has four priority areas in responding to COVID-19: city-wide compliance, support for vulnerable communities in the downtown Eastside, a financial well-being plan for the city, and a city-wide economic recovery plan.
Stewart says that Vancouver has already had to take action to stem financial losses, including laying off more than 1,500 staff, cost and spending reductions, and a capital spending review.
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The City still, however, “loses millions of dollars a week.”
He asks the provincial government to “commit to providing an initial, direct grant” which would be used to maintain essential services and public safety, as well as continue to support vulnerable residents.
“We’re facing a serious gap in funding at City Hall, something we will not be able to make up in the future,” says the Mayor.
Stewart also argues that this grant would ensure that Vancouver is able to lead British Columbia when the time comes for an economic recovery.
The City is also calling on the provincial government to expand BC’s provincial property tax deferment program so that it includes all residents, businesses, and non-profit organizations.
In addition, Vancouver is asking BC to “delay remittance of non-City property tax items,” such as provincial school taxes, TransLink fees, and Metro Vancouver fees.
The City of Vancouver loses between $4 to $5 million a week in lost revenue through non-City property tax revenues, such as rentals, community centre fees, and parking.
“If we don’t get Provincial support,” says Stewart. “We will be forced to make more reductions to front line services, and of course, additional layoffs.”