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Vancouver mayor calls for federal financial support for PNE

Last Updated Aug 30, 2020 at 9:45 pm PDT

Summary

The PNE is facing a deficit of $19-million due to the pandemic, and 4,200 jobs are at stake if it ceases to operate

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he plans to ask the new federal finance minister for assistance

VANCOUVER (CityNews) — Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart paid a visit to the PNE on the last day of its socially-distanced summer fair and said federal funding is needed to make sure it comes back in 2021 and beyond.

The 110-year-old institution is facing a deficit of $19-million due to the pandemic, and 4,200 jobs are at stake if it ceases to operate.

Like everything else during COVID-19, this year’s fair had to be drastically scaled-down. There were a series of small, drive-up and walk-thru events, and some rides even opened for business. But with physical distancing measures in place, the crowd was a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people that typically visit the fair each year.

Stewart said he plans to ask the new federal finance minister for assistance.

“Right now our best hope is for the federal government, the wage subsidy. That is a program that’s being enjoyed across Canada by other fairs. There’s a slight difference in the administrative structure of the fair that makes this difficult, but I will be talking to the federal government this week to see what we can do,” he said.

“I know that city council will be putting our heads together as well to figure out how we can make this go forward.”

Because the PNE is owned and operated by the City of Vancouver, it can’t access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Earlier this month, workers launched a campaign to Save the PNE, saying almost all of the 4,200 people who are employed there have been laid off.

Stewart is optimistic the feds can pitch in.

“Lots of times the federal government wants to help, just the way they’ve structured the program it doesn’t match our local need,” he said.

“It’s really just red tape so we’ll see if we can cut through that.”