City of Vancouver goes from fearing a COVID-19 bankruptcy to building a development boom in two years

Mayor Kennedy Stewart points to “massive spike in building permit applications from builders and companies” just 26 months after declaring the city could go bankrupt due to COVID-19

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What a difference two years makes.

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On Tuesday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he wanted to investigate a guaranteed wait time policy for permits because of a “massive spike in permit applications from builders and companies.”

“Clearly, our economy is making a full recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to retreat,” Kennedy said in a statement.

This came 26 months after the mayor stated that the city of Vancouver was at risk of bankruptcy, citing a poll that showed more than half of property owners did not expect to pay full property taxes in 2020 due to COVID-19. 19.

Kennedy’s statement was made a month after the first COVID-19 death in BC and before the real estate market took off when the federal government manipulated the economy in such a way that interest rates hit historic lows.

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The idea behind that was to keep the economy going when pandemic restrictions were put in place.

Kennedy’s 2020 statement also came a week after he asked the provincial government to give the city $200 million to help contain the pandemic.

According to the City’s 2021 Financial Information (released March 23, 2022), the city’s financial position and prospects improved in 2021 when provincial COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

“The City of Vancouver is optimistic about its ability to fully recover from the negative economic effects of the pandemic, but remains cautious as its financial planning continues to evolve as the pandemic continues,” the statement said.

As of 2021, the city has $940 million in net assets (assets minus debt), which was a $202 million improvement from 2020.

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The city’s revenues were $2.35 billion in 2021, compared to $1,858 during the COVID-19 year of 2020.

“The City of Vancouver’s consolidated corporate statement shows evidence of the city’s recovery from the negative impact of the pandemic,” said a city’s chief financial officer report.

“This is reflected by higher developer contributions, program costs, and licensing and development costs.”

According to Stewart’s statement on Tuesday, the city’s development and permitting task force (established midway through the pandemic) had reported significant reductions in development permit wait times.

Kennedy said he had the board’s full support for his request that the task force “examine the risks and benefits of guaranteed permit waiting times.”

“With the support of the Council, I have instructed the task force to review lessons learned from other jurisdictions and consider financial and legal considerations as part of this new work to improve our development and allow for timelines,” Stewart said.

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