The Richmond Community Coalition, which includes city councillor Chak Au, has put forward a bold $7.8-million spending plan to stimulate the local economy and support small and medium businesses.
“In the first 11 months of the pandemic, we lost over 17,000 jobs in the city,” Au says.
“We need to do something to stimulate the economy. By injecting $7.8-million into the economy, we’ll bring $40-million back economically.”
Under the proposed plan, each Richmond household will receive a $100 voucher. These vouchers can only be spent on business in Richmond and are valid for three months.
“This would have the biggest impact in the shortest time,” Au says.
The idea of a consumption voucher was recommended by Canadian economist and Nobel Laureate Robert Mundell as a means to stimulate the economy and has had success in countries including Australia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and China.
Using the economic concept of multiplier effect—the idea that money received is then re-spent multiple times—it’s estimated that the plan would ultimately boost the local economy by $40-million.
This kind of spending plan is especially helpful to industries that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, including dining and entertainment, and is most effective when the economy is picking up.
“This is the right time to launch,” Au says.
“I’ve been planning for months and doing the research. If there’s hope, if there’s light at the end of the tunnel, people will spend the money.”
Au says funding for the proposed program can easily come from the city’s reserves. Richmond has over $1.25-billion in reserve, including uncommitted funds of $528-million in cash. Richmond also received $9.30-million from the provincial government for COVID-19 response. The city council still has not decided how to use the money.
“Money is not the problem. It’s political will to spend it on helping the local businesses,” Au says. Last summer, Au launched the Rediscover Richmond campaign with Tourism Richmond and Richmond News to support local businesses.
Au and the Richmond Community Coalition are inviting the public to provide feedback to help create a balanced and effective plan that will have support when it goes before city council.
To share your thoughts on the proposed stimulus plan, fill out the survey at https://forms.gle/a21iHJgFVKdrdU8W7.