British Columbia

Province looks for public input on how to spend $1.5B in COVID-19 recovery funds

The B.C. government is holding virtual town halls and asking people to complete an online survey to help determine how to spend $1.5 billion in funds set aside for stimulus and COVID-19 economic recovery.

Premier John Horgan hopes to move into Phase 3 of the province's reopening plan next week

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James looks on as Premier John Horgan details plans to consult British Columbians on their ideas for how to spend $1.5 billion on COVID-19 stimulus and recovery funds. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The B.C. government is holding virtual town halls and asking people to complete an online survey to help determine how to spend $1.5 billion in funds set aside for stimulus and COVID-19 economic recovery.

Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced the outreach plan Wednesday in Victoria.

"Everyone says, 'How can I help?' and I want to take advantage of that," said Horgan.

"I think our success has been a result of people coming together," he said of the effort to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus that has killed 168 people in the province and infected 2,775.

The premier said $3.5 billion has already been spent in response to the pandemic, and money continues to go out, but he said stimulus plans aren't as effective while people are stuck at home — which they have been for most of the pandemic.

Phase 3 could come next week

Horgan said a Destination B.C. plan to promote tourism in the province will begin once it's safe to encourage travel again.

He said he's hopeful the province will be able to enter Phase 3 of its reopening plan next week, but that will depend on a COVID-19 modelling update from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Phase 3 includes the reopening of film and television productions, movie theatres, spas, hotels, resorts, overnight camping in parks, and travel within the province.

Horgan said Wednesday that allowing non-essential travel throughout the province includes visitors from across the country, though the border with the United States will remain closed to non-essential travellers.

The government's plan to get input on where to best spend the $1.5 billion in stimulus funds will include virtual town halls and an online survey. Feedback is welcomed until July 21.

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