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Events, decisions, and reports at City Council this week

March 13 2020 –

Vancouver City Council met this week to hear and discuss a variety of topics during Council and Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meetings.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020 

Council then began with a proclamation celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of the 2010 Winter Paralympic Games.

Staff presented (2 MB) to Council on 2020 Property Taxation – Targeted Land Assessment Averaging (2 MB). After asking questions of staff and Council debate, this was approved with amendments.

Council approved several Reports and Referral Reports:

By-laws 1 to 10 (5 MB) and the following administrative motions were approved:

Council then discussed the following motions:

To hear from speakers, the following motions were referred to the Policy and Strategic Priorities Standing Committee meeting on March 11:

Councillor Swanson withdrew her motion Affirming Support for Residents of Indian Origin Regardless of Religion or Caste  (46 KB).

Council referred the following motion to the City Finance and Services Standing Committee meeting on April 1:

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Policy and Strategic Priorities Standing Committee meeting began with staff providing a Presentation: Update on Phase 1 of the Vancouver Plan. Staff from Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability responded to questions.

“I must admit I was worried about how many Vancouverites would get involved in our city-wide plan,” said Councillor Adriane Carr. “I’m elated that over 10,000 people took the time to tell us their hopes and fears, confirming what I’ve felt to be true: that people love Vancouver for its natural environment and unique neighbourhood restaurants and are most worried about housing affordability, homelessness, climate change and traffic congestion. It’s clear now what our plan needs to focus on: what we need to protect and the problems we need to solve to achieve the future city we want.”

Council received a staff presentation (2 MB) on and asked questions about the Monitoring Report on Implementation of Cambie Corridor Plan (3 MB)

Council adopted the following agenda items on consent:

Motions referred from previous Council meetings were discussed:

“I am not in support of limiting the 2021 property tax increase to a maximum of 5%,” said Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. “We need to listen to the clear pleas of residents and all the emails in opposition that people are pushed to the limit. Early Vancouver Plan results show that 55% say their life is getting worse in Vancouver, citing housing affordability and cost of living as key concerns.

“We also need to recognize that we’re in a very tough time economically. The Business Council of BC downgraded its 2020 Canadian GDP growth forecast by 0.6%, expecting the economy to grow in 1.3-1.5% range with domestic blockades trimming growth by 0.1% and the impact of COVID-19 dropping a further 0.5%. I believe that’s conservative, and we may have to brace for a tougher outcome as COVID-19 progresses. And let’s not forget that our small businesses, and that we haven’t secured split tax assessment from the Province yet to alleviate the crippling impact of highest and best use.”

In order to hear from speakers, debate and decisions for the following motions were referred to the reconvening Council portion of the Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities meeting on Thursday, March 12:

Registered speakers were not present for Strengthening Representative Democratic Practices in the City of Vancouver (85 KB). The motion was subsequently withdrawn.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Council reconvened on Thursday to consider Unfinished Business:

The next Council meeting is scheduled for March 31, 2020.

Amended motions: 

Please see amended motions below. These are provided for your understanding and the published minutes will be the official record of the meeting. 

2020 Property Taxation – Targeted Land Assessment Averaging

A. THAT Council approve, in principle, the application of targeted 5-year land assessment averaging for the purpose of calculating property taxes for Residential (Class 1), Light Industry (Class 5), and Business and Other (Class 6) properties for 2020.

B. THAT, in addition to the standard exclusions as outlined in the annual Land Assessment Averaging By-law, Council adopt a “threshold” of 10% above the property class average change for Class 1 and for Classes 5 and 6 to define eligibility for targeted averaging;

FURTHER THAT the 2020 property class average change for Class 1 and for Classes 5 and 6 be finalized upon publication of the 2020 Revised Assessment Roll in April 2020;

AND FURTHER THAT for properties that are eligible for targeted averaging, the year-over-year change in values derived from the averaging formula for the purpose of calculating property taxes not fall below the Council-adopted “threshold”.

C. THAT properties impacted by a Director of Planning-initiated amendment to the Zoning & Development By-law or an Official Development Plan be considered for targeted averaging, in accordance with the criteria set out in the annual Land Assessment Averaging By-law.

D. THAT properties whose owners sought additional density or a change in use from Council through rezoning, whether enacted or not, or through Council-approved policy changes, not be considered for targeted averaging.

E.  THAT the Director of Legal Services, in consultation with the Director of Finance, be instructed to bring forward for enactment  a by-law authorizing the use of targeted 5-year land assessment averaging that reflects Council’s decision on A, B, C and D above.

F. THAT, subject to adoption of any applicable by-laws, the Director of Finance make appropriate arrangements with BC Assessment for the production of the 2020 Average Assessment Roll at an estimated cost of $25,000 plus applicable taxes; source of funding to be the 2020 Operating Budget.

G. THAT Council direct the Director of Finance to continue working through the Intergovernmental Working Group, in consultation with the UBCM, key stakeholders, and community partners, to promote and elucidate a province-wide or regional approach to addressing property tax assessments on development potential, and to engage the Province to focus on the work necessary to implement “Split Assessment through a Commercial Sub-class” as a permissive tool for municipalities in time for the 2021 tax year.

H. THAT Council ask the Mayor to write to the Premier, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Minister of Finance, with a copy to BC Assessment and the Metro Vancouver municipalities of Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond, North Vancouver, Surrey and West Vancouver to request the Province to work with municipalities to establish a pathway and action plan over the next calendar year to implement “Split Assessment through a Commercial Sub-class” for 2021.

I. THAT Council direct the Director of Finance to continue working with the Civic Engagement and Communications Department to prepare a proactive and easy-to-understand articulation of why the new provincial “interim measure” is unworkable for the City of Vancouver, and why specifically “Split Assessment through a Commercial Subclass” is a solution; and that this communication strategy is ready before the 2020 tax notifications. 

Supporting Gender Equity and Diversity in Vancouver City Council

WHEREAS

1. Legislative bodies, including Vancouver City Council, are workplaces that reflect the power structures and gender dynamics of the past through their operational practices and legislative frameworks;

2. Legislative workplaces should be family-friendly environments for all workers - including elected and non-elected staff - so that their needs to live as well as work are taken into account;

3. Legislative workplaces that embody and promote gender equity and diversity deliver better to constituents and are more legitimate;  

4. Many legislative workplaces that are working to move away from male dominated membership towards promoting equity acknowledge barriers that deter diversity and hinder progress towards equality, and then take strong action to address these issues;

5. The United Nations Inter-Parliamentary Union recommends undertaking an audit of legislative bodies to identify shortcomings in the processes and structures of democratic governments, and have developed tools to use in this audit, most notably the 2012 “Plan of Action for Gender-Sensitive Parliaments”;

6. For the first time in Vancouver’s history, over 70% of Council members are women, and a large proportion of the non-elected staff working for council are also women;

7. Women in elected and other public positions report higher levels of harassment and sexual harassment;

8. Workplace conditions, such as hours of work and access to childcare, can promote or hinder participation in elected democracies; and

9. A gender and diversity audit of Vancouver City Council and its representation, infrastructure, and political and legislative frameworks has never been undertaken; 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct staff in the City Clerk’s Office to establish an annual Gender, Diversity, and Intersectional Audit to examine how Vancouver City Council operates, and make recommendations for policy, bylaw, and convention changes to promote gender, diversity, and intersectional equity in Vancouver City Council including examining:

  • Descriptive statistics, including the volunteer reporting of gender identity, diversity, and intersectional representation amongst election candidates, elected members of council, non-elected support staff, and advisory bodies;
  • Infrastructure currently in place to support council members and staff with their work including building layouts and furnishings, access to childcare, safe spaces, inclusive artwork, chamber floor permissions, night sittings, parental leave, proxy voting, video conferencing, electronic voting, and washroom inclusivity and accessibility; 
  • Policies and legislation in place to change the workplace culture including those pertaining to codes of conduct, harassment, sexual harassment, heckling, gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) and equity;

FURTHER THAT the Audit be designed and led by City Clerk’s Office with the input and involvement of Advisory Committees;

AND FURTHER that this first audit and recommendations be presented to Council in Q1 2021 during International Women’s Day Week and in each subsequent year at this time.

Taking Steps Toward a National Cost-Shared Universal Healthy School Food Program 

WHEREAS

1. The City of Vancouver recognizes that access to sufficient, safe, nutritious, and affordable food is fundamental to health and equality; 

2. The Vancouver Food Charter, dating from January 2007, states that food is “a basic human right” and that all residents need accessible, affordable, healthy, and culturally appropriate food, with children in particular requiring adequate amounts of nutritious food for normal growth and learning; 

3. In January 2013, Vancouver City Council adopted the Vancouver Food Strategy, an official plan and road map that integrates a full spectrum of urban food system issues within a single policy framework that includes food production, food processing, distribution, food access and food waste management, and builds on years of food systems initiatives and grassroots community development that considers all aspects of the food system. Vancouver's food strategy goals express how the City wants the food system to take shape in the future; 

4. In October 2014, Council adopted the Healthy City Strategy, which includes a goal to ensure that Vancouver’s children and youth, up to age 24, have the best chance of enjoying a healthy childhood; 

5. In December 2014, Council unanimously adopted a motion asking City staff to identify $400,000 in the City’s operating budget to expand access to healthy foods for school-aged children. These funds enabled meal programs through Vancouver School Board and the Strathcona Community Centre Association between 2015 and 2018;

6. The Vancouver School District’s Food4School program, which was established in 2015/2016, received $222,895 from the City during that school year and received $320,000 from the City in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 school years; 

7. In June 2017, Council unanimously adopted a motion for submission to the Union of BC Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (UBCM) calling on UBCM to advocate for a Universal Healthy School Food Program to the provincial and federal governments, in light of the ongoing fact that Canada is one of the only industrialized countries without a national school meal program;

8. In September 2017, the City of Vancouver made a submission to the Federal Government’s National Food Policy consultation process, noting the City’s concern regarding increasing levels of food and income insecurity among Vancouver residents and stating that “Individuals living with food insecurity report poorer health, higher rates of obesity, poorer mental health and more mood and anxiety disorders” as well as observing that health care costs are 76% higher for individuals who are food insecure;

9. Among the City of Vancouver’s recommendations to the Federal Government’s National Food Policy consultation in September 2017, there was a recommendation for the Federal Government to work with the Provinces and Territories to create a cost-shared universal healthy school food program to ensure that all school children learn basic food skills and have access to healthy, nutritious meals every day, in accordance with the view that school meal programs not only benefit classroom learning, but also model healthy eating, teach food skills, and serve to eliminate stigma through universality; 

10. At the April 2018 Annual General Meeting of the BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA), the membership passed a resolution calling on the BCSTA to, among other things, “endorse the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s national Universal Healthy School Food Program campaign” and for the “Ministry of Health and the provincial Ministry of Health [to] provide new money to invest in a cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program,” in recognition of the fact that ensuring the life-long health and success of children and youth is proper nutrition and that the establishment of healthy eating habits, along with the provision of appropriate foods during a student’s developmental years, is critical to building not only a base for success in school but a foundation for life-long health; 

11. In addition to the BC School Trustees Association’s official endorsement of the Coalition for Healthy School Food and its call for the development of a universal, cost-shared School Food Program for Canada, numerous other organizations have officially endorsed the Coalition and its call including the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), Family Services of Greater Vancouver, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, IUOE Local 963, and the City of Victoria among others; 

12. In 2018, the City of Vancouver proclaimed March 1, 2018, as “Great Big Crunch for Healthy School Food Day” in Vancouver, and did so again in 2019. The Great Big Crunch is a national movement and annual moment of anti-silence in which students, teachers, parents and others passionate about food join the food movement and crunch into apples (or other crunchy fruit or vegetable) to make noise for healthy school food; 

13. September 18, 2018, staff report to Vancouver City Council entitled “City Support for Healthy School Meal Programs” cites research showing that “every student would benefit from access to a meal program, as these programs show positive benefits not only on reducing school day hunger, but on improving academic achievement, physical and mental well-being, and fruit and vegetable consumption (Coalition for Healthy School Food, 2016). School meal programs are also well placed to model systemic changes on environmental sustainability and local agriculture through procurement practices”; 

14. On March 19, 2019, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled Budget 2019 in which the federal government committed to developing a “Food Policy for Canada” with the intention to “set out a coordinated and collaborative approach to addressing food-related issues” in Canada; 

15. The federal government’s Food Policy for Canada initiative states that it is a “roadmap for a healthier and more sustainable food system for Canada” that, among other objectives, is taking the first consultative steps alongside provinces, territories, and not-for-profit organizations towards the creation of a National School Food Program, in order to help improve the health of Canada’s children as they learn, leading to better futures for them, and ultimately for our country; 

16. In September 2019, the Vancouver School Board (VSB) passed a motion requesting that school district staff “create a holistic 10 Year Vision and Food Framework for the District” with the work to include: 

  • A 10-year vision for the District that would include a Food Framework incorporating relevant key components including but not limited to: food growing, production, distribution, nutrition, waste, security, donations, education, funding and lobbying that is in alignment with the District’s Strategic Plan and formation of a Food Working Group made up of external representatives;
  • Identifying the capital and operating costs associated with developing a Food Framework and its implementation.

17.     In November 2019, a consultant’s report commissioned by VSB staff noted that the Vancouver School District delivers 15 different nutrition programs at 119 sites, with operational oversight of seven teaching cafeterias, and management of FoodSafe and regulatory compliance in 30 commercial kitchens; 

18. The City of Vancouver 2020 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, under the Department Service Plan for Arts, Culture and Community Services, recommended “an increase of $160,000 to reinstate grants for the Vancouver School Board school food program that were reduced in 2019” and further, under the heading “Looking ahead, 2021-2024”, noted an objective to “Update the Vancouver Food Strategy by developing priority food actions for 2021-2030 and targets for 2050 for integration within the City’s next environmental plan.”; 

19. “Thousands of hungry kids are fed every day in VSB schools, sometimes breakfast, sometimes a hot lunch and sometimes a delivered meal. Those meals are provided in 32 Vancouver schools in neighbourhoods identified as vulnerable.” (Tracy Sherlock / Vancouver Courier – November 25, 2019); 

20. On February 13, 2020, Victoria City Council unanimously supported a motion calling for the City of Victoria to “endorse the efforts of the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for a universal, cost-shared healthy school food program…. based on a shared belief that all children and youth in British Columbia should have daily access to healthy food at school.”; 

21. The City of Vancouver has proclaimed March 12, 2020, as “The Great Big Crunch for Healthy School Food Day” in the City of Vancouver (as in 2018 and 2019); and 

22. The path to civic progress and a stable society – in Vancouver, throughout the province of B.C., and across Canada – requires that we accept our social responsibilities and act upon them, and although school meal programs cannot address the root causes and totality of food insecurity, they do provide a stable meal on school days to support student learning and are consistent with the objectives of the City’s broader Food Strategy and the City’s Healthy City Strategy;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED 

A. THAT Vancouver City Council direct the Mayor, on behalf of Council, to write to the Prime Minister of Canada to encourage the Government of Canada to make the creation of a Cost-Shared Universal Healthy School Food Program a top priority for the national agenda of the 43rd Parliament in 2020, consistent with the leadership already shown by the Government of Canada in working to create a national food policy, with copies of the letter sent to the Premier of British Columbia and the Provincial Ministers responsible for school food, namely the Ministers of Education, Health, and Agriculture;

FURTHER THAT Council’s letter to the Prime Minister should reference the City and Council’s strong support for the Federal Government to work with the Provinces, Territories, Indigenous communities, and non-profit groups to create a Cost-Shared Universal Healthy School Food Program that ensures all school children learn basic food skills and have access to healthy, nutritious meals every day to support classroom learning while also modelling healthy eating and teaching food skills.

B. THAT Vancouver City Council call on the Provincial Government to commit to an universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program for all K-12 students in BC, including an invitation to all parties represented in the Provincial Legislature to support a universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program, and to work with local non-profits and school communities to pilot and implement a flexible program that respects local conditions and food cultures, while promoting positive health and education outcomes;

FURTHER THAT Council direct the Mayor, on behalf of Council, to write to the Premier and the Provincial Ministers responsible for school food, namely the Ministers of Education, Health, and Agriculture, to advise them of Council’s endorsement and strong, ongoing support for an universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program for all K-12 students in BC, including a reference to the positive physical and mental health outcomes of universal meal programs as well as the agricultural market opportunities through institutional local food procurement which is a stated priority of Ministry of Agriculture. 

C. THAT Vancouver City Council direct staff to report back to Council, prior to the 2021 City of Vancouver Budget deliberations, regarding the status of, and funding requirements of, the Vancouver School District’s existing food program(s) for the 2021/22 school year;

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to convey Council’s support and encouragement to the School District for the creation of its “holistic 10 Year Vision and Food Framework” and to note the opportunity for the City and the School District to explore potential partnerships and alignments on shared objectives relating to food, food security, and the fostering of healthy communities within the city in the larger context of an anticipated Universal Healthy School Food Program.

D. THAT Vancouver City Council and the City of Vancouver endorse the ongoing efforts of the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for a universal, cost-shared healthy school food program based on the shared belief that all children and youth in British Columbia should have daily access to healthy food at school. Logistically, the mechanism to accomplish Council’s  endorsement would require Council to read and agree with the contents of the Coalition’s 2016 position paper which seeks an investment by the federal government in a cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program. 

E. THAT Vancouver City Council direct staff to report back with the next update of the Healthy City Strategy with recommendations of ways in which the City and City staff could work with their respective counterparts in other B.C. municipalities in order to share data that may be relevant to food matters and to support each other in advocacy efforts toward a universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program.

F. THAT Council direct staff to write to Union of BC Municipalities’ Health and Social Development Committee to share outcomes of this motion, and request follow-up on advocacy efforts and strategies arising from the UBCM approval of Vancouver’s 2017 Resolution B127: National School Food Program, which directed “… that UBCM and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities advocate for a Universal Healthy School Food Program to provincial and federal governments.”

G. THAT Council request staff to consider funding opportunities that may be available to further the City of Vancouver’s commitment to participating in a National Cost-Shared Universal Healthy School Food Program;

FURTHER THAT staff consider funding opportunities including but not limited, to the City of Vancouver Sponsorship Policy, partnerships with non-profit organizations and charitable foundations, restaurants and individual donors.

Water and Washrooms as a Human Right 

WHEREAS

1. Almost 2 billion people around the world do not have access to clean drinking water, 4 billion people face severe water scarcity and 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation; 

2. The United Nations’ World Water Development Report stated that, “3.6 billion people live in areas that are water scarce for at least a month per year,” and if we do not take action, it will “increase to as many as 5.7 billion people by 2050.”;

3. On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 64/292 recognizing the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights;

4. On September 23, 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution 16/2 which affirmed that the rights to water and sanitation are part of existing international law and confirms that these rights are legally binding upon States. It also calls upon States to develop appropriate tools and mechanisms to achieve progressively the full realization of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation; 

5. The climate crisis further threatens our water supplies through more frequent droughts and increased water demands;

6. The effects of climate change are already being felt on Vancouver’s water supply, including the severe drought of 2015 and the increasing variability of Vancouver’s snowpack;

7. The manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of single-use bottled water has serious environmental ramifications, particularly impacting air quality and the climate, consumes unnecessary resources such as oil in the manufacturing of plastic bottles and fuels used in the transportation of bottled water to the consumer, and creates significant recycling and waste disposal costs;

8. The privatization of drinking water often results in the commodification of fresh water, restricting communities’ rights to access drinking water while prioritizing the profits of multinational corporations;

9. The problems associated with the privatization of multinational corporation’s access to drinking water was exemplified in 2015 when in the midst of a drought the interest of local communities were pitted against the interests of Nestlé’s access to an aquifer outside Hope;

10. Additionally, the cost of single-use bottled water makes it less accessible to low-income residents than public water fountains;

11. Public ownership and operation of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems have been fundamental to access and quality over the past century;

12. On June 29, 2001, the Greater Vancouver Regional District decided against the privatization of the operation of a water filtration plant on the grounds of potential free-trade lawsuits;

13. Tap water in the City of Vancouver is safe, healthy and accessible to residents and visitors, is readily available at most indoor public facilities, and is substantially more sustainable than bottled water;

14. Vancouver has temporary fountains and water trucks which it rents or provides during particularly hot stretches or outdoor events;

15. Vancouver Civic Theatres do not currently have bottle fill services in place, relying on the sale of bottled water, or concession staff filling water bottles which slows down service;

16. On April 7, 2015, in recognition of the 2015 UN World Water Day, the Vancouver School Board passed a motion to phase out the sale of bottled water at VSB schools and facilities, including the introduction of water refilling stations and the sale of reusable water containers. 

17. In 2009, the “Blue Communities” Project was developed to respond to the various threats posed by the commodification and privatization of the world’s drinking water; 

18. In BC, a number of communities have protected their water supplies from privatization and increased water rates, including Nanaimo, Victoria, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Abbotsford, and White Rock; 

19. In 2011, the Union of BC Municipalities passed a resolution supporting Blue Communities;

20. To become a Blue Community, a municipality must recognize water as a human right; ban the sales of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events and commit to promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services; 

21. A critical aspect of a human rights approach to water is ensuring safe and accessible access to public washrooms, a particularly important requirement in making a city welcoming for seniors, children, people with disabilities, and people with unstable housing; and

22. The UN World Water Day will be observed on March 22, 2020, the day highlights the importance of freshwater, and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED 

A. THAT the City of Vancouver endorses and supports the “Blue Communities” project, and recognizes and affirms that access to water and sanitation services are fundamental human rights.

B. THAT Council direct staff to prepare a report on the necessary policy and by-law amendments required to align city services with a human rights centric approach to water and sanitation services. Such a report should pay particular attention to:

a. Applying a human rights framework to its application of applicable by laws; 

b.  Providing an update on Council’s 2009 ban on the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities and events, and a plan to phase out the sale of bottled water, while increasing the availability of public water fountains and water bottle filling stations;

c. Improving public access to washroom facilities, including advocating for universally accessible washroom facilities in transit hubs and high-foot traffic areas, and improved wayfinding signage and digital mapping; and

d. Considering relevant safety and accessibility concerns for Vancouver residents most vulnerable to the opioid crisis.

e.  How this work can be incorporated into staff direction resulting out of the January 21, 2020 Council resolution, “Aligning the Healthy City Strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals”, specifically Sustainable Development Goal # 6. Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

f. Actively pursuing private and philanthropic funding sources and partnerships to accelerate the availability of free to access and use public water fountains and water bottle filling stations.

C. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to the Federal Government advocating that they enshrine the human right to water and sanitation in federal law, and advocating that they fulfill their responsibility to support municipal infrastructure by investing in a national water and wastewater infrastructure fund that would address the growing need to renew existing water and wastewater infrastructure and build new systems, and further advocating that public infrastructure funding only fund public projects.

D. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to the Provincial Government advocating that they enshrine the human right to water and sanitation in provincial law, and advocate that the province stop issuing licenses to extract groundwater for commercial water bottling and/or for bulk water exports.

E. THAT the City of Vancouver commit to promoting publicly owned, financed and operated water and wastewater regional services, while supporting the innovation of localized water harvest and non-potable reuse solutions.

Safety for Residents with Precarious Status: Delivering Access without Fear

WHEREAS

1. Vancouver has the second highest concentration of immigrants in Canada, and migration to Vancouver is likely to increase due to global displacement caused by climate change;

2. Many new residents arrive with temporary work permits that are tied to a single employer; and are at risk of losing their status as a result of paperwork or employer misconduct;

3. Vancouver residents deserve to feel confident in their safety using City services;

4. As San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Ordinance states, cities are safer for everyone when:

all residents, regardless of immigration status, feel comfortable calling the Police and Fire Departments . . . [and] accessing City public health services and benefit programs;

5. In recognition of these conditions, Council adopted the Access to City Services Without Fear (ACSWF) for Residents with Uncertain or No Immigration Status policy in 2016, to enable “residents to use municipal services . . . without fear that the City of Vancouver will ask for and provide information about their immigration status to other institutions or orders of government unless required by law”;

6. Today, more than three years after the ACSWF policy was adopted, the policy has not been fully implemented;

7. The ACSWF policy recognizes that:

a.  “Immigration status is a social determinant of health”;

b.  “Fear of harm, detention and deportation prevents people from seeking the support they need from service groups and government agencies of all types”;

c.  “Women and children are especially affected when they cannot safely access these supports, as partners, employers, and individuals are more able to hold and abuse power over them”; and

d.  “The voluntary disclosure of immigration status and enforcement of immigration law is outside the scope of the City’s jurisdiction, and City staff are not responsible for the enforcement of immigration law”;

8. Lack of safe and secure access to resources has and continues to result in an atmosphere of fear, distrust, confusion, and even death for racialized, undocumented, migrant, and refugee residents and communities in Vancouver:

a.  Lucia Vega Jimenez, a 42-year Mexican hotel worker, died while in Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA)’s custody in December 2013 after being turned over to immigration authorities by Transit Police. In 2014, the community demanded an end to immigration detention, and a Coroner’s Inquest identified various needed improvements within CBSA correctional facilities. As part of their response, Transit Police ceased their agreement with the CBSA; and

b.  On August 19, 2019, CBSA raided the Hastings Racecourse because of information provided by the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. Witnesses reported that CBSA staff harassed racialized employees during the raid. CBSA arrested up to 26 employees, and at least seven residents have since been ordered to leave Canada. It has been alleged that a Gaming Policy and Enforcement employee falsified documents and misled these residents; this employee was suspended with pay;

9. While there have been no reports made through the City’s processes, communities have shared experiences of not being able to access City services without fear in reports like Sanctuary Health’s 2018 “Still Waiting, Still Afraid: Auditing Access Without Fear Policies in the City of Vancouver”; 

10. Residents also report not being able to access City and civic services without fear because different organizations funded by the City have inconsistent access without fear policies;

11. These inconsistent policies and practices leave residents vulnerable to harm, increase distrust, and prevent access to critical living, safety, emergency housing, and community services. Staff awareness, training, and support is essential to closing this gap and to ensuring that the ACSWF policy protects residents when they access any front-line service; 

12. Racialized residents are disproportionately criminalized and represented in the justice system; 

13. Dylan Mazur, lawyer with the BC Civil Liberties Association, was quoted in the StarMetro Vancouver explaining that VPD’s guidelines were too unspecific to offer guaranteed protection to undocumented people who wanted to come forward as witnesses or victims of a crime:

“As a lawyer I cannot look at these guidelines and provide sound legal advice whether someone should come forward as a victim . . . I am not aware as a lawyer in what circumstances the Crown would require someone’s immigration status for court process, or what specific offence would require the disclosure of someone’s immigration status”;

14. In its 2019 “Update Regarding [VPD] Guidelines on Police Requests Related to Immigration Status,” VPD reported having initiated an average of at least 23 queries per month to federal immigration authorities over an eight-month period ending May 23, 2019;

15. As detailed in the 2016 ACSWF policy report, police departments in other cities working to provide access without fear, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, do not request or disclose information about the citizenship or migration status of individuals unless required by law;

16. Residents deserve to be able to access emergency services for themselves and their families without fear that they will be subjected to contact with correctional or immigration enforcement systems;

17. Residents deserve regular, public updates about how the ACSWF policy is proceeding so that they can make informed choices about accessing City services; and

18. Council has an opportunity to demonstrate its leadership in supporting migrants’ safety by fully resourcing and implementing the policy it adopted, responding to community calls for improvement, and urging other jurisdictions to follow suit—especially around the core policy directive of “Relationship with CBSA”;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED 

A. THAT Council recognize that a city where immigration status checks are only performed when required by law would help create a city where residents, no matter their immigration status, can truly access city and civic services, including public safety services, without fear of deportation.

B. THAT Council direct staff to explore and report back in a public memo by the end of Q2 2020, on work underway to finish implementing the 2016 policy (as identified in the “Update: Access Without Fear Implementation” email and table sent from the City Manager to Mayor and Council on January 29, 2020).

C. THAT Council direct staff to incorporate the following into the work to finish implementing the 2016 policy:

i.  For implementation of initiative #3, staff and community training: Maintaining annual policy training for department leaders and training for relevant front-line staff, including VPD statistics on immigration status checks and collaboration with the CBSA;

ii.  For implementation of initiative #4, communication strategy: Supporting community groups that serve undocumented residents to develop resources and/or workshops for migrants on the policy and how it affects their access to services; and

iii.  For implementation of initiative #6, “Reporting and Evaluation”: Providing an annual, public progress update at a Council meeting.

D. THAT Council direct staff to explore and report back by the end of 2020 with a budget and timeline for options to strengthen the Access to City Services Without Fear (ACSWF) policy and guidelines in 2021, including Identifying and recommending any necessary or additional resources, such as staffing or additional funding for new initiatives, in order to fully implement or strengthen the ACSWF policy and to adopt best practices from sanctuary cities (e.g. providing City ID cards, legal advice, etc.).

i.  Amending City of Vancouver grant eligibility requirements to read: “Be accommodating, welcoming and open to people of all . . . migration status, and socio-economic conditions, in their policies, practices and programs”;

ii.  Mandating migrant rights training for staff as part of the business licence approval process; and

iii.  Inviting input from relevant advisory committees.

iv.   Requiring City-funded programs to ensure that access is not dependent on immigration status and that they maintain privacy of information, particularly pertaining to access without fear policies;

E. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to BC Housing to urge them to require that access to shelters and housing is not dependent on immigration status and that they maintain privacy of information related to access without fear policies.

F. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to the Vancouver Police Board, VPD’s Chief Constable, and VPD’s senior management to share this motion for their review and feedback.

G. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to BC’s Premier, Attorney General, and Ministers of Education, Health, and Labour to share this motion, to outline the impacts of the August CBSA raid for Vancouver’s communities, reviewing their role in enabling the August CBSA raid and taking steps to prevent similar situations in the future, to ask that the province join the City of Vancouver and other municipalities by developing access without fear policies with an emphasis on healthcare, education, and employment standards.

H. THAT Council direct the Mayor to write to the federal Minister of Public Safety by April 15th to share this motion, to outline the impacts of the August CBSA raid for Vancouver’s communities, and to ask that the CBSA revisit its investigation practices, particularly when there is no public safety risk and when working with racialized, marginalized, or vulnerable communities and to prioritize regularization of immigration status over deportation. 

Providing Free Menstrual Products in City of Vancouver Civic Facilities Washrooms

WHEREAS 

1. January 17, 2018, Vancouver City Council unanimously adopted "Vancouver: A City of All Women, Women's Equity Strategy 2018-2028”; 

2. July 12, 2018, the government of British Columbia United Way of the Lower Mainland has launched the Period Promise Campaign with the objective to reduce isolation and vulnerably caused poverty;   

3. The United Way Period Promise Research Project was funded by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, along with support from Pacific BlueCross, Vancity, Always and Tampax. Twelve partner agencies will be supplied with menstrual products to distribute, at no-cost to clients. These agencies will also provide information to United Way of the Lower Mainland and the data and findings will be included in a report to the government of British Columbia in July 2020; 

4. October 23, 2018, the City’s Women's Advisory Committee received a verbal presentation and carried the following resolution:  

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Women’s Advisory Committee recommends to Council that the City of Vancouver work to get free-vending tampon and pad dispensers in schools, colleges, government service centres, and homeless shelters; 

5.    A ministerial order was issued April 5, 2019, requiring public schools to provide free menstrual products for students in school washrooms by the end of 2019. $300,000 of provincial start-up funding has been allocated to this initiative; 

6. February 10, 2020, the Vancouver Park Board passed the motion titled "Free Menstrual Products at Park Board Facilities"; 

7. The Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee has sent a letter to both Committee’s Council Liaisons stating support for the resolutions; and

8. On January 30, 2020, the Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee sent an email to committee liaison Councillor De Genova, explaining the limitations of the procedures to record votes observed by advisory committees between scheduled clerked advisory committee meetings. A letter of support was attached to this email and has been circulated to Council members. The letter is from all current members of the Women’s Advisory Committee, conveying their support as private citizens for free menstrual products and noting the Women’s Advisory committee passed a motion at a clerked meeting on October 23, 2018 in support of accessible and free menstrual products in civic facilities. 

9. December 4, 2019 at the Vancouver School Board Policy and Governance Committee Meeting the policy “Menstrual Products in Schools” carried unanimously. 

10. February 10, 2020 at the Regular Park Board Meeting, The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously carried the motion “Free Menstrual Products at Park Board Facilities.” 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED

A. THAT Council direct staff to explore a plan for providing free menstrual products in civic facilities ensuring no one person will feel stigmatized in accessing the products as needed.

B. THAT Council direct staff to consider funding initiatives including, but not limited to, partnerships with manufacturers of menstrual products, non-profit organizations and funding available from senior governments. 

C. THAT staff report back to Council on A and B above with any recommendations on or before Q4 2020. 

D. THAT Council direct the City Clerk to share this motion on behalf of Vancouver City Council with: 

  • The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
  • The Vancouver School Board
  • Vancouver Art Gallery Board
  • Vancouver Civic Theatres Board
  • The Pacific National Exhibition Board
  • The Vancouver Police Board
  • The Vancouver Public Library Board