Decriminalizing poverty

What you need to know

We’re working to decriminalize poverty. We're rethinking our response to a variety of situations and circumstances, including the intersecting impacts of poverty, gender, and race and systemic racism on interactions with policing. 

Certain groups in society are at greater risk of harm and vulnerability due to the lack of investment and inequitable systems that fail to address the root causes of poverty and resulting criminalization. These groups are often the same people who have more frequent interaction with law enforcement.

We are looking at ways to de-prioritize policing as a response to issues such as mental health, sex work, homelessness, and substance use. Instead, we're prioritizing funding community-led groups, non-profit societies, and others with the experience and training to deliver harm reduction and safety initiatives in these areas.

What's happeningApply to be on our community panel

We're looking for community members to be part of our community panel, share their knowledge, experience and wisdom, and help shape the way that the City supports the community. 

Find out how to apply

Initial work

Phase one

We're establishing a community panel to provide ideas for how we can take a more community focused approach to responding to issues and make recommendations that would help us prioritize funding for community-led groups and non-profit.

The panel will include local experts working in Vancouver’s community service sector and people with lived experience, as well as representatives from related organizations.

There will be 17 to 18 people on the panel, including:

  • Two co-chairs: to lead and facilitate the panel in a collaborative co-creation process
  • Eight community members: representing different backgrounds and experiences, including sex work, homelessness, substance use, Indigenous communities, and racialized communities
  • Three community representatives from the following groups:
    • One Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Committee member or staff representative
    • One Business Improvement Associations representative
    • One Community Policing Centre representative
  • One representative from the Canadian Mental Health Association
  • One Youth-in-Care representative from the Youth-in-Care community
  • Three community policing experts who are not employees of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) but are chosen by the VPD
  • One academic researcher: to be recommended by the community

Phase two

The recommendations generated by the panel will be collated into a report for Council and, subject to Council’s approval, staff will then conduct a financial, legal, and jurisdictional review of the recommendations and look at ways to implement the recommendations.

Apply to be on the panel

We believe that people who have experienced poverty are the best people to recommend what solutions are needed. We are seeking applications for the eight community member positions on the panel and welcome applications from people who have experience of sex work, homelessness, and substance use, as well as people from Indigenous and racialized communities.

If you are selected for the panel, you will be expected to attend weekly meetings from late August 2021 to spring 2022. We expect it to be a time commitment of three to four hours per week. Honorariums will be provided, as well as childcare and transportation costs.

How to apply

There are two ways you can apply:

Written application

Oral application

Ensure you answer all of the questions on the application form and include your name in your text or Whatsapp message.

The deadline for applications is midnight on Monday, June 21.

Attend an in-person or virtual information session

If you would like to find out more about the community panel, attend one of our in-person or virtual information sessions:

Wednesday, June 9

Friday, June 18

  • In person: 3pm to 5pm at UBC Learning Exchange