City of Vancouver losing up to $5 million per week

City bleeding red ink

The City of Vancouver is losing up to $5 million per week in revenues and is worried citizens won’t be able to pay their taxes because of COVID-19's hit on the economy.

A city staff report released Wednesday estimated loss in revenues could range from $60 million between March and May to $190 million by year’s end.

Such a dire financial situation prompted Mayor Kennedy Stewart to call Wednesday on the provincial government for an injection of up to $200 million in cash.

“We are bleeding money right now,” Stewart told reporters at a news conference at city hall. “The province has better projections on how long [this pandemic] is going to last. However, we need to do economic planning and that’s why the ask for an initial disbursement of up to $200 million.”

Much of the city’s loss in revenues is related to the closure of community centres, libraries, civic theatres and suspending parking enforcement.

The city also relies on gaming grants, bylaw and library fines and revenue from permit and licence fees for its operating budget, which is $1.6 billion this year.

“The decrease in revenue resulting from these closures, combined with potentially higher delinquency in payments for property tax and utility fees, creates a significant financial and cash flow challenge,” said the staff report, noting 1,500 city workers were temporarily laid off last month as a result of revenue loss.

The report noted that every 10 per cent increase in the number of people who don’t pay their taxes results in a $130 million decrease in property tax and utility payments received.

More than 15,000 Vancouver businesses closed temporarily to follow provincial health guidelines related to physical distancing.

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