Women Transforming Cities sent a letter to the mayor and city council urging them to create a more equitable public hearing process in our council chambers during discussions about land use applications moving forward.
Dear Vancouver City Council,
While a public hearing can be a productive way to hear about the challenges and successes of an application for land use, they often devolve into the demonization of the future tenants, especially when the project is being planned as social or supportive housing. With the upcoming public hearing for 8th and Arbutus this month, Women Transforming Cities is asking you to improve the process that exists right now. The City of New Westminster focused on creating a less harmful space by using ‘point of order’ from all councilors when constituents spoke about the potential future tenants, especially when stigmatizing, racist, and oppressive language was being used. The comments were redirected back to land use as a reminder that all comments about land use and land use alone were welcome. Comments and discussions about race, ethnicity, mental health status, criminal history, or addiction, need to be quashed. We ask you to do the same. We want folks who experience oppression in our communities to have a real voice in decision making. It’s the role of council to make this possible at council meetings. It is silencing to sit through meetings where one feels demonized and stigmatized by the perception of who they might be. This is a way to make Vancouver better for equity-deserving genders by having better, less harmful, more inclusive public hearing processes.
The team at Women Transforming Cities International Society