There are renewed calls for the federal and provincial government to step in to help the Pacific National Exhibition stay afloat.
On Wednesday, Vancouver city council voted in favour of a motion to seek COVID-19 funding from the senior governments.
Lisa Dominato, Vancouver city councillor and chair of PNE board, submitted the motion and says the assistance is desperately needed in order to see the PNE survive the pandemic.
“We’ve had to lay off 93 per cent of our union employees and about 50 per cent of management,” Dominato said.
She says the Pacific National Exhibition is the only fair in the country to not receive wage subsidy assistance.
The Calgary Stampede, Cloverdale Rodeo and BC AgriFair have all received some financial support, but organizers of the PNE say it has not received a dime.
That’s because the PNE has been owned by the City of Vancouver since 2004, and therefore cannot apply for federal COVID-19 recovery programs.
The City of Vancouver is asking for an exception to be made on a special case basis.
“It would make a significant difference. If it had been receiving the wage subsidy up until November it would be about $3.6 million, and going into June of this year it would be about $6 million. So that’s a significant impact.”
Back in September, organizers of the iconic institution made a similar appeal to the federal government, with no luck.
“When we turned around with the Safe Restart Agreement with the provinces, we moved forward on giving money directly to the provinces for the municipalities to help them with their priorities. So if these are priorities for the municipalities, there’s federal money for that,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September.
Dominato says action needs to be taken now, in order to ensure there is still a PNE in the future.
“We already have $10 million in debt due to the pandemic. We had to cancel $50 million in event revenues due to the pandemic. But it also impacts the long-term viability of continuing this iconic organization.”