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The Hot Pink Paper Campaign: One-Year Progress Report

The Hot Pink Paper Campaign (HPPC) amplifies the voices of communities that are often under-represented at city hall. Through this campaign, Women Transforming Cities (WTC) holds the mayor and council accountable to their commitments to make Vancouver a city where everyone can thrive.

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One-Year Progress Report Summary

What actions have Mayor Ken Sim and Vancouver City Council taken on their commitments to equity-deserving residents a year into their term?

We looked at whether each party’s track record on their HPPC commitments aligns with:

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HPPC Progress 2023

Key Takeaways
 
  • This council has not made progress on most of their HPPC policy commitments in their first year. While there have been a few steps in the right direction, such as initiating an equity review of past bylaws, ABC has moved backwards on their HPPC commitments on affordable housing, community safety, climate justice and accessible transit.
     

  • Green Party and OneCity councillors’ voting records and public comments show they are following through on their commitments.
     

  • Concerningly, Mayor Sim and ABC councillors’ decisions have repeatedly delayed, blocked, or directly contradicted the HPPC policy asks, signalling that they may not be serious about the commitments they made to equity-deserving residents.

  • Equity-deserving communities need accountability from elected leaders. Council regularly makes decisions that impact people who are excluded from institutions of power. Unfortunately, these communities are all too accustomed to politicians making promises that they don’t keep.
     

  • Next year presents many critical opportunities for council to follow through on their commitments, particularly on public washrooms, heatwave protection, and community safety.

Learn more about council’s actions on their policy commitments
  • Final Report: Action on Systemic Barriers to Women's Participation in Local Government (2020)
    The final report offers an overview of this three-year project, concentrating on four areas in which women participate in local civic life: as candidates and elected decision-makers; as participants in citizen-led municipal advisory bodies; as municipal employees; and as participants in city-led public engagement efforts. See the report
  • Voter Engagement, Electoral Systems, and Diverse Women’s Political Representation: A Brief Review (2019)"
    Using the 2018 Vancouver, BC elections as a case study, this brief review looks at representation on city council and who votes in municipal elections. See the review
  • Pathways to a Women-friendly Surrey: Outcome Report (2018)
    This outcome report presents the expertise of women participating in a forum held in Surrey, BC. The forum set out to find out why and how women become involved in the city, what helps and supports a woman candidate and what barriers or challenges she faces. See the outcome report
  • Hot Pink Pathways to a Women-Friendly Vancouver: Outcome Report (2018)
    This outcome report presents the expertise of women participating in a forum held in Vancouver, BC. The forum set out to find out why and how women become involved in the city, what helps and supports a woman candidate and what barriers or challenges she faces. See the outcome report
  • Barriers Facing Women in Politics Briefing Note (2018)
    Submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women. See the briefing note
  • Systemic Barriers to Women's Participation in Local Government Project's Literature Review (2017)
    Literature review of major research pieces and providing an overview of identified barriers to women's involvement in local government. See the literature review
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What is the Hot Pink Paper Campaign?

 

In the lead-up to the municipal election, WTC runs deep engagement with community groups and organizations to identify priority issues for women, girls, and gender non-conforming people in Vancouver. We prioritize hearing from groups who are often excluded from democratic processes and who face systemic oppression in our city.

This engagement shaped eight evidence-based policy priorities. During the 2022 Vancouver election, we asked candidates for mayor and council if they’d pledge to implement these policies if elected. All candidates who make up our current council, including Mayor Sim, enthusiastically committed to implementing our policy asks.

Read the campaign background and policy briefs to learn more about our policy asks and the data-driven process behind the HPPC.

Why Track and Report on Council Decisions?

 

Our work doesn’t stop after the election. The community organizations and residents that helped shape these policies count on WTC to hold council to their commitments. 


Through our Watch Council program, we monitor council meetings and track decisions that impact equity-deserving communities. Tracking how councillors are voting on these decisions — and whether they’re following through on their HPPC promises — is vital because:

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  • Equity-deserving communities need accountability from elected leaders. Council regularly makes decisions that impact communities who are often overlooked by institutions of power. Unfortunately, these communities are all too accustomed to politicians making promises that they don’t keep. Local government decisions don’t always receive the same level of scrutiny as higher levels of government, but we believe they should.
     

  • Local government systems are challenging to navigate. It can be difficult to know where and what to look for to determine whether your elected officials’ actions match their words. Equity-deserving groups face additional barriers to participating in these systems. We give them tools to make their voices heard, including by amplifying their priorities through this campaign.
     

  • Equity requires action. It’s easy to say you support equity, but executing it when it’s not politically convenient is more challenging. We believe that reminding elected officials that we are paying attention to their actions can help motivate them to centre the needs of marginalized communities.

Want to run your own Hot Pink Paper Campaign? Hold elected officials accountable for priority issues in your community.  Explore our toolkit here.  

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What Decisions Did We Look at?

 

Over the past year, we’ve analyzed council’s voting record on issues related to the HPPC policy asks. Through our regular Watch Council meetings, WTC members play a critical role in determining which agenda items we’ll track. Because voting on motions isn’t the only way elected leaders exercise power, in some cases, we’ve also looked at public statements and questions or comments in council meetings.

 

While the decisions we’ve looked at here aren’t an exhaustive list, they provide an important snapshot of council’s actions on our policy asks––a snapshot our community believes is worth highlighting. In some cases, we’ve tracked a single vote closely related to the HPPC; in others, we’ve highlighted a series of decisions and considered how, on balance, our elected leaders’ track record aligns with their HPPC commitment.

How Did We Measure and Assess Progress?

 

After the election, WTC met with councillors from each party to discuss how they can move their HPPC commitments forward and established that we would assess their progress based on three criteria:

 

  1. Centering those most impacted – do policies address the needs of those who experience intersecting layers of oppression and incorporate community-driven solutions?

  2. Adequate resourcing – are commitments accompanied by the funding needed to secure tangible outcomes within a reasonable period?

  3. Alignment with HPPC – how closely do policy decisions mirror the language and goals of the eight commitments laid out in our pledge?

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Using these criteria, we asked whether each party’s track record, including votes on motions, staff reports, and amendments, as well as through public statements, aligned with:

 

  • Meaningful progress – showing leadership and taking courageous action toward their HPPC commitment

  • Maintaining the status quo – piecemeal adjustments and small or symbolic steps, which may be beneficial but don’t address the root issues or respond to equity-deserving communities’ priorities

  • Moving backwards – making decisions that actively harm equity-deserving communities or that block, delay, or water down opportunities to take meaningful action toward their HPPC commitment

 

When we’ve tracked multiple decisions, we’ll consider how the record of each party fits into this framework across their decision-making. If council hasn't made a decision this year that relates to a specific HPPC policy, or if we don’t have enough information, we'll note that in the progress report too.

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Why We’ve Assessed by Party

 

Vancouver is unique because it has political parties at the local level. WTC is a non-partisan, issue-focused organization. We work with all individuals across political parties who are interested in progressing the issues most important to equity-deserving genders and communities.

 

Local government systems don’t require elected officials to vote with their political party. Nonetheless, we’re only aware of a handful of times this year that members of the same party haven’t voted together along partisan lines. While individual members of a party may not have been present for each decision we’ve tracked, in the absence of a public statement to suggest otherwise, we assume they stand with the decisions of their caucus colleagues.

2022-2026 Policy Commitments

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*Green Party Councillors provided additional context to WTC on why they abstained from committing to this policy ask.

Help us hold City Council accountable.

Consider becoming a member (membership starts as low $10/month) to contribute your time to our Watch Council program. Your support enables us to sustain this work.

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