Here are the motions on our radar for this council meeting. We encourage everyone to check out the other motions, reports, and bylaws that we have not included in this list by looking at the City Council Agenda here.
1. Adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism
About the Motion
The motion calls for the City to implement the non-legally binding definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Councillor Kirby-Yung previously introduced this motion in 2019, and it was referred to the Racial and Ethno-Cultural Equity Advisory Committee, who were unable to make a resolution on it. It was met with strong opposition from progressive groups as well.
Once again, many individuals and groups are concerned about adopting this definition and how it will be applied. Due to its vague nature, the definition can be interpreted to conflate antisemitism with any criticisms of Israel and risks being used to suppress dissent of the state of Isreal.
This could be used against many groups, including those here in Vancouver, who advocate for Palestinian human rights. In particular, we are concerned about how this motion could affect Palestinian women’s right to protest in Vancouver, how they are policed, and how it may affect City funding for groups that are focused on providing services to Palestinians in Vancouver.
As an organization committed to anti-colonialism, we share the same concerns for political expression as groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and the BC Civil Liberties Association, who go deeper into the issue in this Twitter thread. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has also come out in opposition to this motion with this open letter to council. UBCIC, acknowledging that Palestinians are Indigenous, says in part “Adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism is in direct contravention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).”
We are supporting the statements made by many community groups (linked above) and joining them in their concerns about this motion. You can sign-up to speak on this motion, send comments to council here, or use this form by Jewish Voice for Peace here to express your opposition to this motion.
2. Urgent Measures to Uplift Vancouver’s Chinatown
About the Motion
This motion requests that staff develop an action plan to “uplift” Chinatown. Specifically, it asks them to work with the VPD and community policing centres in this process, which emphasizes street cleaning, graffiti removal and beautification. It also directs staff to set up a City of Vancouver office in Chinatown.
We are concerned that this motion emphasizes working with police, but makes no explicit reference to working with people experiencing homelessness who reside in or near Chinatown, and who are overpoliced. Women Transforming Cities believes that no proposed solution to challenges facing this neighbourhood will be effective unless they include all relevant members of the community. We appreciate the acknowledgement of historic racism within this motion and are pleased to see the new council is committed to addressing Anti-Asian hate crime.
The motion could be strengthened with an amendment requesting that staff also consider and report back on the impact of this action plan on vulnerable populations, including Urban Indigenous people, people who use drugs, and sex workers.
All members of this new Council committed to our Hot Pink Paper policy ask to launch, sustain, and expand initiatives that provide non-policing alternatives to community safety including “cleaning programs led by impacted individuals, and accessible, long-term storage facilities as an alternative to police-enforced street sweeps.” We urge Council to ensure that this commitment is reflected in amendments to this motion and to future actions taken in Chinatown.
WTC is reaching out to council members to suggest an amendment to this motion to include the specific mention of cleaning programs led by impacted individuals, as is promoted by many groups in the DTES and highlighted in the Stop the Sweeps report.
3. Accessibility Audit of all City-Owned Assets
About the Motion
Last term, the City of Vancouver unanimously approved and moved forward with the commitments outlined in the first stage of the Accessibility Strategy. This motion calls for staff to update Council on those commitments in early 2023, including providing an action plan for further accessibility audits of City infrastructure and facilities, and their associated costs in order to make Vancouver more accessible and inclusive for all.
We are encouraged to see that accessibility and, specifically, the Accessibility Strategy is being prioritized by this new council. We commend the efforts of this new Council to centre the perspectives of people living with disabilities in Vancouver and hope that the lived experiences of disability activists will continue to be centred during the implementation of these audits.
We urge Council and staff to employ an intersectional lens in these audits, including considering how people with disabilities who are also low-income, racialized or unhoused navigate city infrastructure. In addition, we hope that Council will ensure that all city proceedings and public feedback mechanisms-–including Council meetings themselves––are included in these audits.
In recognition that people with lived experience should be compensated for their expertise, we also hope that individuals and groups involved in this process receive fair pay for their perspectives and input.
WTC is working with city staff focused on the accessibility strategy, and is looking forward to working closely with the newly appointed city disability advisory committee in February. We will be sharing more information in the new year on how to nominate for this committee, and we hope to support the city to ensure diverse voices are represented on all city advisory committees.
4. Enabling the Requisitioning and Hiring of 100 New Police Officers and 100 Mental Health Nurses
About the Motion
During the election, ABC Vancouver campaigned on a promise to hire 100 new police officers and 100 mental health nurses if elected. This motion is their initial step to implementing that promise. It is being proposed as a mental health mitigation response that builds on mental health initiatives already run by the VPD in collaboration with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), such as Car 87/88. The motion calls on the mayor to inform the Vancouver Police Board, the Vancouver Police Union and VCH that they are working on settting aside funds to hire new police officers and nurses and asks staff to allocate $4.5 million for the hiring of new police and $1.5 million for the hiring of new nurses in the city’s 2023 operational budget.
We firmly advocate for non-policing alternatives for mental health services, and for funding long-term preventative measures to tackle mental health crises. These crises, especially when they lead to police involvement, are more often than not exacerbated by poverty.
In the engagement process for our Hot Pink Paper Campaign, many community members who live in Vancouver told us that they did not feel comfortable contacting car 87/88 or the police for support in a mental health crisis for themselves or for their loved ones. This is especially the case for Black, Indigenous, and racialized residents who do not feel supported by police on a regular basis, let alone in a heightened crisis situation. This is further exhibited by the police shooting of Chris Amyotte this past summer, a member of the Rolling River First Nation in Manitoba, who was unarmed and seeking help after being bear sprayed in the DTES.
We are concerned that this motion also mentions people with addictions without naming the poisoned drug supply, or any specific measures for harm reduction.
Vancouver has many existing community-based frontline organizations that are not only working to provide support and intervention during crisis situations, but whom also have crisis mitigation programs. WTC believes that the city budget can be best spent on funding crucial preventative mental health programming, rather than further increasing the number of police in our city.
We are also concerned about what other city initiatives may be impacted by the loss of funding due to this decision, especially if council has no plans to offset the financial impact with increased taxes.
We are speaking with front-line organizations to best understand how to support their work and amplify their concerns. We are hoping to meet with ABC councillors in the next two weeks to re-iterate what we heard during the Hot Pink Paper campaign about community safety.
About Watch Council
Vancouver City Council meets every second week. The clerk’s office shares upcoming agenda items and motions before these meetings, which can be accessed on this website.
When agenda items are released the week before council, a Watch Council member will go through and highlight and recommend any notable motions to be discussed with other Watch Council members.
Visit our Watch Council and Hot Pink Paper Campaign pages to learn more about how we're taking action in the city.