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Events, decisions, and reports at City Council this week

May 1 2020 –

Vancouver City Council met electronically this week to hear and discuss a variety of topics during Council meeting.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Council opened with an acknowledgment of April 28, 2020, as a Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace, and held a moment of silence for the recent tragedy that occurred in Nova Scotia.

Council first dealt with Unfinished Business, approving the memo Communication: 2020 LMLGA Submission Adjustments (47 KB).

After debate and asking questions of staff, Council referred the following referral reports to Public Hearing:

Council received a Downtown Eastside (DTES) COVID-19 Response and Overdose Crisis Update, with a staff presentation on the DTES COVID-19 Response (1.75 KB), and Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health, presenting an update on the opioid overdose emergency (965 KB)

As part of the Unfinished Business on the agenda, city staff presented an additional update (1.5 MB) to Council on the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts, Financial Update and Short-Term Actions (369 KB) report. After asking questions of staff and Council debate, this was approved with amendments.

“With residents and businesses facing financial hardship during this time, I support shifting the property tax deadline from July 3 to September 30, 2020. This gives residential and commercial property owners a little bit of breathing room,” said Councillor Lisa Dominato.

“This week Council took the first tangible step towards helping our businesses and residents with the crushing financial impact of Covid19, by deferring our property tax due date from July 2 to September 30 to give people a longer runway in these tough times,” said Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. “We should be approaching everything through the lens of ‘if our businesses are healthy and our residents are healthy, then the City (and its finances) will be too’. We need to be laser focused on specific actions the city can take to help them both.”

Council approved several Communications memos, Reports, Referral Reports, and By-laws:

The following administrative motions were also approved:

Council approved the COVID-19 Salary Adjustment (59 KB) motion with amendments.

“These are increasingly challenging times for all of us, and we learned the extent to which the City’s revenues are challenged, and the necessity for budget cuts and belt tightening but also for reintroducing fees for services like parking and getting our permitting services up and running as soon as possible,” said Councillor Pete Fry. “I am very appreciative of the sacrifices everyone is making. Through pay cuts of exempt staff, mayor and council, along with voluntary wage freezes from many of our union employees and even forthcoming capital plan reprioritizations, I’m confident that we are on track for a good recovery.”

The following motions were referred to the Policy and Strategic Priorities Standing Committee meeting on April 29, 2020:

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 

The Policy and Strategic Priorities Standing Committee meeting began with city staff presenting to Council on the COVID-19 Housing Response (2 MB).

Council then received a staff presentation (3.4 MB) on Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under (615 KB). After hearing from two speakers and asking questions of staff, this was approved with amendments.

“Buildings are one of the largest sources of emissions in Vancouver - equating to 58% of GHG’s - that the City can work to reduce through smart policy,” said Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung. “This week Council took a step to greater sustainability with a policy that all new buildings 3 storeys and under are required to have zero emission heating and hot water starting January 22. This will make a difference, because right now 64% of new residential floor area built falls in this category.”

The following were also approved:

Council then considered motions referred from Tuesday April 28:

“Council wisely chose not to explore liens, fines and other measures to force private Single Room Accommodation owner/operators to pay for extraordinary COVID-19 cleaning response efforts,” said Councillor Pete Fry, on Single Room Occupancy Cleaning Cost Recovery. “The rejected approach to cost recovery for emergency pandemic response could have had forced scale back of important public health interventions, or even the sale and re-development of thousands of units of Single Room Accommodations, many of which would be considered sub-standard housing, but are critically important as the last stop for many before homelessness.”

The next Council meeting is scheduled for May 12, 2020 at 9:30am.

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. 

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts: Financial Update and Short-Term Actions

  1. THAT, in response to the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Council approve, in principle, the amendment to Tax Penalty By-law No. 9284, generally as outlined in Appendix A of the Report dated April 6, 2020, entitled “COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts: Financial Update and Short-Term Actions”, to adjust the remittance due date for the July main property tax notices from July 3, 2020, to September 30, 2020.
  2. THAT the Director of Legal Services bring forward for enactment a by-law generally in accordance with A above.  
  3. THAT Council direct staff to include in the mitigation plan deferral of service level increments, deferral of capital projects and reduction of the operating budget in order to achieve a balanced budget in 2020.
  4. THAT Council direct staff to reinstate enforcement for pay-parking, and metered parking, city wide as soon as possible;

FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to communicate to the public, the return of pay parking enforcement city wide, and also the importance of parking revenue in the City of Vancouver budget;

AND FURTHER THAT Council direct staff to consider specific pay parking exemptions for essential and health care workers during the timeframe of the City of Vancouver’s State of Emergency, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Salary Adjustment

WHEREAS

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted significant negative economic impacts with many Vancouver residents being laid off or experiencing wage and salary reductions;
  2. Lost operating revenues have already forced the City of Vancouver to lay off 1500 highly-valued workers;
  3. Additional revenue losses or property tax defaults could bring additional hardships; and
  4. Non-unionized, exempt City staff; including managers, have taken a significant cut in pay.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct staff to prepare an amendment to By-law No. 11483, in order to reduce the Mayor’s and Councillors’ remuneration by the same proportion and duration as exempt employees, for the duration of the COVID-19 response and recovery.

Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under

  1. THAT Council approve amendments to the Building By-law, generally as described in the Report dated March 10, 2020, entitled “Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under”, and as set out in Appendix A of the same report, to: decrease carbon pollution and increase the energy efficiency requirements for residential buildings 3 storeys and under, including townhomes, to take effect January 1, 2022; to move closer into alignment with the BC Energy Step Code for residential buildings 4-6 storeys, to take effect January 1, 2021; to set a 2 tonne carbon pollution cap for new single family and duplex dwellings 325m2+, to take effect January 1, 2021; and to make various housekeeping amendments and amendments to close a loophole in the current lighting alterations provisions, to take effect July 1, 2020;

FURTHER THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services to prepare and bring forward for enactment the by-law necessary to implement these amendments, generally as outlined in Appendix A of the above-noted report.

B. THAT Council approve updates to the requirements for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in new one- and two-family dwellings and any ancillary residential suites in the Building By-law and the Parking By-law as set out in Appendix E of the Report dated March 10, 2020, entitled “Climate Emergency Requirements for New Housing 3-Storeys and Under” to this report, to take effect January 1, 2021; 

FURTHER THAT Council instruct the Director of Legal Services to prepare and bring forward for enactment the by-laws necessary to implement these amendments, generally as outlined in Appendix E of the above-noted report. 

C. THAT Council instruct staff to develop recommendations to complement the climate and energy efficiency requirements in A above to ensure that useable space inside a new home is not reduced as a result of the increased space needed for zero emission mechanical equipment, and interior height is not reduced as a result of the roof thickness required for additional insulation in typical assemblies.

D. That Council direct staff to work with Vancouver Heritage Foundation and stakeholders to update the Bulletin 2014-007 “Conservation of Heritage Buildings and Compliance with Vancouver’s Building By-law”, to ensure that there is flexibility in the requirements, for modest renovations and additions for heritage and character homes that achieve retention goals, enabling approaches that are compatible with a historic building.

Ensuring All Vancouver Residents Can Comply With Public Health Guidance

WHEREAS

  1. COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health emergency; 
  2. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the Provincial Health Officer, has directed British Columbians to practice physical distancing and to “stay at home as much as possible” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19;
  3. The City’s 2019 Homeless Count identified 2,223 residents as homeless, and these residents will likely be unable to follow Provincial health directives without additional assistance because they have no homes;
  4. Mayor Kennedy Stewart has called upon the Provincial and Federal governments to provide “additional shelter capacity/temporary housing for up to 3,000 people currently unable to self-isolate”;
  5. The Provincial Government and Provincial agencies, including BC Housing and Emergency Management BC, have significantly more flexibility in obtaining resources and, therefore, are better positioned than the City to address the housing needs of City residents during the   COVID-19 crisis;
  6. To date, the Provincial Government and Provincial agencies have not secured enough housing to allow for Vancouver’s homeless population to practice appropriate physical distancing and self-isolation;
  7. There have been numerous COVID-19 outbreaks in congregate settings like prisons and long term care facilities; 
  8. Shelters are congregate settings where people have even less chance to self-isolate than people in prisons and nursing homes because they do not have private rooms or even cells with toilets;
  9. There have been COVID-19 outbreaks in shelters in the US with large numbers of people testing positive even when they have few if any symptoms; 
  10. The continued use of shelters as spaces for people who are homeless increases risk of COVID-19 transmission among people who are and are not homeless;
  11. Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction has a list of 92 people living in Oppenheimer Park who want to move indoors; and
  12. The BC Hotel Association estimates that 60 per cent of hotels in British Columbia have closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, indicating that there are enough empty rooms to address the isolation needs of City of Vancouver residents.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED 

  1. THAT Council publicly express appreciation for the Provincial Government and BC Housing’s ongoing work to provide housing and other supports for unhoused and systemically vulnerable Vancouver residents during Covid-19.
  2. THAT Council direct the Mayor to continue advocating on behalf of unhoused and systemically vulnerable Vancouver residents, including advocating strongly that the Province of British Columbia acquire enough hotel rooms, apartments, or other housing as soon as possible, to offer to all unhoused people in Vancouver so they have the same opportunity for self-isolation as people with homes.
  3. THAT Council direct staff to work with provincial and federal partners to support an urgent expansion of permanent social housing in all neighbourhoods of Vancouver, including by contributing city-owned land, so that residents temporarily housed during Covid-19 aren’t moved back onto the street when physical distancing requirements are relaxed.

Strengthening Representative Democratic Practices in Vancouver 

WHEREAS

  1. In democratic theory, representatives are elected to represent the people within jurisdictional boundaries. So, representatives must know what their constituents think in order to best represent the ‘will of the people’;
  2. Under the laws and traditions of Canada, the fundamental principles of representative democracy apply to the City of Vancouver, its elected Council, and the various legislative processes conducted by Council and the City on behalf of the city’s constituents and within the City’s jurisdictional and physical boundaries;
  3. Municipal councils in British Columbia typically have full discretion to set policies, adopt bylaws, and establish direction for their communities, in accordance with legislation and other legal rules, and they do so within the established principles and traditions of representative democracy and consistent with the Canadian democratic tradition;1
  4. The Vancouver Charter lays out the boundaries of the city, as well as the electoral process by which our representatives are elected, and responsibilities to the inhabitants of the City. 
  5. In a representative democracy, all eligible citizens have the right to participate, either directly or indirectly, in making the decisions that affect them, most commonly by voting in an election and/or by making their views known to their elected officials on issues of importance to them and their community, for example, at Public Hearings of Council;2
  6. In order to ensure that constituent and community feedback is fully, fairly, and transparently articulated and considered, it is incumbent in a representative democracy to ensure that the will of the people, as expressed by its constituents through the various feedback mechanisms and processes in place, is accurately and fairly presented;
  7. To be effective stewards of the City and best represent constituents, members of a City Council must receive and consider feedback representing a wide range of views obtained through a variety of means and processes. Specifically:
    • in person (e.g. at public hearings and from delegations to Council)
    • on paper (e.g. letters, petitions)
    • online (e.g. emails, online petitions, social media)
  8. Public Hearings are a quasi-judicial process of Council where, at the start of a public hearing, the City Clerk reads a summary of the application under consideration along with a summary of correspondence received. For example, the Clerk’s opening statement variously takes the form of, “The following correspondence has been received since referral to public hearing and prior to the close of the speakers list and receipt of public comments: x pieces of correspondence in support and x pieces of correspondence in opposition. This represents all correspondence up to 5:00 PM today.”;
  9. The summary of correspondence presented at public hearings and for other Council processes is intended to quantify and convey the level support or opposition to a matter under consideration. Council is reliant on the quality and reliability of the summary information to ensure that the decision making process is sound and sufficiently representative in its scope;  
  10. Those persons wishing to address Vancouver City Council on a matter, either as a delegation to Council or at a Public Hearing, including through written correspondence, are currently not required to indicate or state where they live in the city, what their home address may be, or whether they may in fact reside in another municipality altogether; 

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct City staff to prepare and bring back to Council for consideration, at the next possible Council meeting including required notice (May 26, 2020), amendments to the Procedure By-law that authorize individuals providing public comments, as speaker, by email, or on paper, related to items of Council meetings, Standing Committees, and Public Hearings be requested to state the following:

  • Their full name;
  • Whether they are a resident of the City of Vancouver, or are non-resident.

1) The City of Vancouver, as with other municipalities in British Columbia, is empowered to control land use and development within the city through a variety of processes and tools, and is also responsible for providing essential municipal infrastructure and services including drinking water, roads, fire protection, and sewage collection and treatment .

2) Sections 22 through 24 of the Vancouver Charter, under Division 5 (Electors), specifies the eligibility criteria for “resident electors” (i.e., those who live in the city) and “non-resident property electors” (i.e., the registered owner of real property in the city) to vote in a City of Vancouver election, all of whom must be, among other requirements and restrictions, 18 years of age or older on the day of registration or on the general voting day for the election, a Canadian citizen, and a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months immediately before the day of registration or on the general voting day for the election.

Section 38 of the Vancouver Charter under Division 5 (Qualifications for Office) lays out the requirements that must be met for holding office on Council or Park Board and states, among other criteria, that the person “must be an individual who is, or who will be on general voting day for the election, 18 years of age or older,” a Canadian citizen, and “must have been a resident of British Columbia, as determined in accordance with section 25 [of the Charter], for at least 6 months immediately before the relevant time.”