COQUITLAM, B.C., May 6, 2020 – Coquitlam is moving forward with a broad COVID-19 response plan that includes immediate relief for taxpayers and a funding allocation for a community recovery plan aimed at providing targeted and meaningful support to those in need.
Last night, Council approved the Community Support and Recovery Plan (CSRP), a series of measures intended to address the pandemic’s short-term and long-term financial impact on all sectors of the community, including:
- Extending the 2020 utility and property tax deadline for all property types to Sept. 30;
- Allocating $5-million in preliminary funding to develop a support and recovery plan with both short-term and long-term support for residents, businesses and non-profits;
- Seeking federal and provincial stimulus funding for City capital projects to promote economic recovery; and
- Additional measures to be considered as part of the future 2021 budget.
The measures endorsed by Council demonstrate Coquitlam’s commitment to investing in those most in need. Coquitlam’s CSRP will benefit all community members, while keeping the City in a financial position to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support for Taxpayers
The City is giving residents and businesses until Sept. 30 to pay this year’s utility and tax bills, and will only charge a five per cent penalty on any unpaid balances after that date – half the usual amount.
Coquitlam residents are also encouraged to apply for both the 2020 Home Owner Grant and the Provincial Property Tax Deferment Program, which allows eligible homeowners to reduce or defer their taxes.
Tax notices will still be sent in June, along with a request that property owners who can afford to do so pay by July 2 to support the provision of City services. Property taxes fund about two-thirds of Coquitlam’s budget.
Recovery Plan to Offer Broad Community Support
The City will allocate $5 million from its infrastructure reserve as preliminary funding for CSRP initiatives, intended to provide both immediate and longer-term targeted relief to the non-profit sector, businesses and residents while complementing provincial and federal government efforts.
A host of ideas are being considered, including targeted grants for non-profit organizations, reduced or waived City fees, technology investments and marketing to support local businesses. Staff plan to present specific CSRP recommendations to Council in the coming months.
The City also wants to be ready to take advantage of any cost-sharing economic stimulus funding made available by the provincial and federal governments, which would support the development of planned future capital projects, and benefit Coquitlam residents, boost the local economy and support employment.
Staff intend to bring forward more community recovery ideas through the development of the CSRP and as part of the City’s 2021 budget process that will begin in late summer.
Taking a Long-term View
While years of prudent fiscal management have placed Coquitlam in a sound financial position, the pandemic is having an effect due to delayed utility and tax payments, and the loss of recreation fees, casino funding and other revenue.
The City has already had to make a number of difficult operational decisions to address the potential operating budget deficit of $2.5 to $6.5 million, including a temporary hiring freeze, reduced discretionary spending, and the temporary layoff of employees.
The City is also maintaining the modest property tax increase planned for 2020 (averaging 2.64 per cent across all classes) to help minimize the deficit.
Although the accumulated operating surplus – a de facto emergency fund – is sufficient to handle any remaining year-end deficit, Coquitlam is continuing to take a cautious and methodical approach to fiscal management during the pandemic. This approach is what has enabled the City to launch the CSRP with funding from reserves.
Planning to Resume City Services
The City has also begun to prepare for the potential that some in-person activities may be able to resume in the coming months, as public health requirements allow. The focus will be on services that directly serve the public, with the intent is to ensure a consistent approach for all City activities with similar levels of public health risk.
For up-to-date information regarding the COVID-19 impacts to City facilities, programs, services and events:
Coquitlam residents are also encouraged to follow the City of Coquitlam on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and download the CoquitlamConnect mobile app for up-to-date City information.
For more information on COVID-19, including updates, answers to frequently asked questions, and translated information, please consult the following resources: