Mayor Kennedy Stewart looking at film, tech industry to restart Vancouver's economy

Apr 22 2020, 9:44 pm

Vancouver will be looking towards its film and tech sector as catalysts for restarting the economy in the near future.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart spoke to reporters on Wednesday afternoon, addressing the city’s plan for a financial recovery post-COVID-19.

“Right now, we have fewer resources than ever before,” he says. “That’s not a recipe or a safe and healthy city or the foundations for a strong economic recovery.”

“Despite these challenges, Vancouver remains a city of promise and opportunity.”

The Mayor says that he’ll be bringing together local leaders and workers from across the city’s economy in the coming weeks. He also adds that he’s participated in “virtual roundtables” which included individuals from key sectors of the economy.

When it comes to specific industries, Stewart mentioned BC’s film and tech sector as playing major roles in this process.

“I was very heartened to hear that the Premier is thinking about how we can find a way to safely restart our film and television industry,” he says. “We are ready to work with the province and the industry to think creatively and make this happen while keeping everyone safe.”

Stewart says that given Vancouver’s response to the virus so far, coupled with possible plans to ease restrictions in the coming months, the city could be in a very strong position.

“If we can, Vancouver can be amongst the first places in the world that reopens for business in this multi-billion dollar sector,” he explains. “This is a huge opportunity for us.”

“If we can be one of the first major cities that can keep flattening the curve, while at the same time restoring the essential experience of living in our beautiful and attractive city, we can offer a safe haven for even more of these highly paid tech workers.”

With a strong push from the two industries, Stewart believes that they could also benefit Vancouver’s service and retail industries and perhaps allow for a faster recovery.

“With these creative and tech industries back in action, coupled with Ottawa’s wage support for smaller businesses, Vancouver’s service and retail industries may recover sooner than later.”

The Canadian Media Producers Association says that BC-based film and television production brought in more than $3.5 billion in 2018. The province accounted for 40% of Canada’s total production.

Last fall, the CBRE Group’s annual Tech-30 report listed Vancouver as the number one position in high-tech job growth.

Stewart adds that to date, neither the federal or provincial governments have offered direct financial aid. Although municipalities have been allowed to borrow money in order to pay for operations, he says the deficit would be massive and would require “deep service reductions” or “large property tax increases.”

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.

Vincent PlanaVincent Plana

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