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Vancouver council approves quarter-billion dollar capital budget cut amid COVID-19

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Vancouver budget cuts
WATCH: The city of Vancouver has announced millions of dollars in budget cuts to help deal with a financial crunch caused, in part, by the pandemic. – Sep 19, 2020

Vancouver city council has approved cuts to its four-year capital plan that the city says will save more than a quarter-billion dollars.

The cuts, announced Friday, come as the city grapples with a financial crisis brought on by COVID-19.

According to the city, the $254-million capital budget reduction will see “some large, multi-year projects scaled back or postponed” to help ease COVID-19 funding pressures.

A report presented to council on Wednesday showed the city facing $219 million less in projected development and partner financial contributions brought on by the pandemic economic downturn.

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Vancouver’s renewed plea for financial support

The cut brings the city’s total spending over the four-year term down from $2.9 billion to $2.6 billion, and the city says it could result in a $10-million to $29-million reduction in property taxes in 2021 and 2022.

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Several high-profile projects will be either scaled back or deferred following the move.

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

That includes a $3.25-million upgrade to Vancouver’s Manitoba Works Yard and City Hall campus buildings, $26.3 million in construction in city parks, and “complete streets” upgrades for Gastown ($7.2 million) and West Georgia Street ($4.5 million).

Major upgrades to the Granville Street bridge will proceed, though with a budget reduced by $9 million.

The capital budget cuts came the same week that Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart pledged to review a renovation project for city hall that included more than $300,000 in spending on new high-end office furniture.

Stewart had previously pleaded for a provincial bailout citing the pandemic’s effect on city finances.

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