VANCOUVER — Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he isn’t happy with the city’s share of economic recovery funding from a federal package to help cope with COVID-19.
The federal government announced in July it was sending $19 billion in funding to the provinces and territories to help refuel their economies during the pandemic.
The program included $2 billion earmarked to support municipal operating costs for a six- to eight-month period.
Kennedy Stewart says he learned Tuesday night that Vancouver will receive $16 million, not the $60 million he expected based on per capita distribution of the money.
Stewart says it’s not typically the federal government’s role to fund municipal operating budgets, but he believes he was successful at securing the money by pushing Ottawa to act as part of the big-city mayors caucus.
The premier’s office and Ministry of Municipal Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I’m really pretty gobsmacked about getting shafted over this,” Stewart told a council meeting on Wednesday.
“I really think that this money would never have come to the province if it wasn’t for the big-city mayors negotiating it. And now they’ve decided to … take it away from big cities where it’s needed the most and spread it to small municipalities that aren’t having the same struggles.”
Stewart said many of the biggest economic challenges caused by COVID-19 are concentrated in bigger cities where businesses are shutting down and homelessness is rising.