VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The financial impact of COVID-19 on the City of Vancouver is becoming more apparent.
According to a report heading to council, more than 15,000 businesses have temporarily closed because of the pandemic as many taxpayers face “economic uncertainty.”
The report cites Vancouver as an important driver for economic recovery in the region.
“However, the financial impacts to the City resulting from the pandemic are severe, and like all municipalities, the funding capacity to deal with unprecedented events such as this is limited and the support of senior governments is needed,” reads the report.
Authored by the city’s finance director, the report also recommends pushing back the due date for property taxes from July 3 to September 2.
It also suggests asking the province to expand the Property Tax Deferment Program to include homeowners, businesses, and non-profit groups.
While keeping in line with provincial health orders, physical distancing has affected some city’s revenues.
And even after physical distancing restrictions are lifted, the report said it is going to take some time before revenues will recover.
Mayor Kennedy Stewart said during a press conference, the city is losing millions every week because of this loss of revenue.
The City of Vancouver has called on the province for $200 million in emergency funding to help maintain essential services and continue to support vulnerable residents during the pandemic.
Stewart said if the city doesn’t receive emergency funding, council could consider increasing property taxes further or reducing staff and services. The latter could include long-term closure of some municipal facilities, or cutting community grants, he added.
If everything returns to normal in May, he said Vancouver would have a $61 million budget deficit and affect property taxes.
The recommendations to deal with the “unprecedented economic turmoil” created by the pandemic will go before council next Tuesday.
With files from Mike Hall