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Vancouver mayor asks B.C. for $200 million to offset COVID-19 economic hit

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Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is asking the province for an emergency grant of $200 million to help offset the likely major financial hit when the coronavirus pandemic begins to end.

Despite cost-cutting measures such as temporarily laying off 1,500 municipal employees, Stewart told a news conference on Wednesday that there is still a “serious gap” in funding at City Hall.

He said he anticipates a 50-per-cent drop in tax revenue between March and May, adding that governments cannot apply for the federal wage subsidy.

The $200-million figure is based on when government health orders and other restrictions may end.

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In a worst case scenario — a recovery period stretching to end of December — Stewart said he expects a financial hit of about $189 million, equivalent to a 24-per-cent increase in property taxes.

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“Slow economic recovery in Vancouver means slower recovery throughout B.C.,” he said.

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