Financial aid from federal and provincial governments is needed to help Langley City weather the COVID-19 pandemic, councillor Paul Albrecht said. On July 27, 2020, Council unanimously approved approaching both levels of government for assistance. (file)

Langley City seeks a share of “safe-restart” fund

Council calls for emergency operating funding from provincial and federal governments

Saying “local government revenues are collapsing and unanticipated costs are soaring” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Langley City council has called on the federal and provincial governments to provide emergency operating funding in order to avert cuts to local services.

Councillor Paul Albrecht’s proposed call to senior governments won unanimous approval by council at their July 27 meeting.

Langley City will be asking the federal and provincial governments to provide emergency operating funding “to protect vital local services including public transportation, protective services, emergency services, public health and social services.”

“It’s all about getting appropriate funding for our community,” commented Albrecht.

READ ALSO: Smaller cohorts expected for many Langley schools

His motion to council mentioned the recently-announced federal $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement that, in addition to committing money to help provinces and territories, promises funding for municipalities so they can deliver essential services.

Councillor Rudy Storteboom thought it was a good idea to approach senior levels of government.

“That money [Safe Restart] is on the table,” Storteboom noted.

After the meeting, Albrecht said the City isn’t the only municipality looking for help.

“I think we’re all looking for assistance” Albrecht told the Langley Advance Times.

“I don’t think we’re going to know the full impact [of COVID-19 for a while]” Albrecht said.

READ ALSO: Meet the ‘disease detective’ who tracks COVID-19 cases in Langley and other Fraser Health jurisdictions

According to an RBC analysis, municipal shortfalls across Canada could total nearly $12 billion this year because of the pandemic.

“With most of us staying at home, cities’ usual revenue streams — including transit fares and parking fees — have all but dried up, and hard-hit businesses and households may struggle to pay property taxes this year,” the RBC report warned.

To prevent significant tax increases or deep spending cuts, the report suggested other levels of government will need to provide more help, “perhaps even non-repayable support.”

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