Mayor joins workers in calling for $8 million in provincial aid to the Pacific National Exhibition

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Mark Hosak
April 30, 2021

With forecasted losses of nearly $15 million dollars due to COVID-19 related closures, Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) management and workers, along with Mayor Kennedy Stewart, warn the PNE, as we know it, could be lost forever unless the exhibition can secure $8 million in emergency grants from the provincial government.

Watch the Press Conference here

“With mounting losses due to pandemic-triggered closures in 2020 and again in 2021, the PNE requires $8 million in emergency aid from the Province if it is going to continue to be the beloved event that British Columbians flock to each summer and the home to hundreds more music, cultural, sports, and consumer shows annually,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “The toll COVID-19 has taken on this 111-year-old institution is so significant it could end the PNE as we know it, despite the City of Vancouver extending and backstopping the PNE’s ever-growing line of credit,”

The PNE missed the 2020 summer season, will likely remain closed in 2021 resulting in a $15 million deficit. PNE management says the non-profit organization would take more than 15 years to eliminate that level of debt, greatly jeopardizing the organization’s ability to mount future events.

“We’ve tried our best to be resilient and innovative, but the truth remains that we’re running out of time, as losses continue to mount,” said Acting PNE President and CEO Stacy Shields. “We’ve survived two world wars and the Great Depression, all while providing millions of people from across British Columbia and around the world cherished memories, as well as generating $200 million dollars in economic impact annually – but the challenges of COVID-19 have pushed us to the brink.”

“Thousands of jobs are at risk, if the PNE doesn’t receive aid. Plus the Fair is British Columbia’s single largest employer of youth, the same youth already hit hard during this latest wave of the pandemic,” said Andrew Ledger, President of CUPE Local 1004, which represents the majority of PNE workers. “For many, it’s their first job – work that helps pay for their education, or even gets their family established in Canada. Losing these jobs and the PNE’s impact on our province because of an $8 million shortfall would be a tragedy.”

The PNE operates without senior government funding and to date has not received any guaranteed offers of grant assistance from either the provincial or federal governments. Most government COVID-19 recovery grant programs include only organizations already receiving annual government grant funding. The PNE is excluded from these programs due to its proud tradition of financial self-sufficiency.

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