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Vancouver mayor clarifies ‘misinformation’ about city finances, renews call for provincial help

Vancouver city council discusses financial crisis brought about by COVID-19

Vancouver’s mayor addressed what he called “misinformation” about the city’s financial status during the COVID-19 crisis, saying the city is not on the verge of bankruptcy but needs help.

Kennedy Stewart says the city has $130 million in reserves, but much of that money should be saved for other emergencies like earthquakes.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cash crunch: Vancouver mulls financial impact of 3-, 6- and 9-month lockdowns

Stewart said a plan for grace period on property tax payments is on hold for now, adding the province has denied requests for emergency grants to help shore up the city’s operating costs.

Premier John Horgan noted that Vancouver is far from the only municipality in the province facing fiscal challenges.

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Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson, Horgan said, has talked to mayors across the province. She and Finance Minister Finance Carole James are working on proposals that will be revealed later this week, the premier said.

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Vancouver mayor criticized for asking for provincial bailout
Vancouver mayor criticized for asking for provincial bailout

“I don’t dismiss Mayor Stewart’s concerns, but those concerns are echoed right across the province,” Horgan said.

“And we are still trying to figure out where we go as a province, where our regions need support, what we can ask of the federal government.”

READ MORE: Vancouver mayor says 25% of city may be unable to pay property taxes due to COVID-19

The City of Surrey says it is losing $4 million a month during the COVID-19 crisis, and if the trend continues, could face a budget shortfall of up to $42 million by year’s end.

The City of Port Coquitlam is reducing all non-essential spending, putting a cashflow plan in place and placing a hold on external hiring except for critical positions.

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