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Watch Council

Watch Council is a group of WTC volunteers who follow the agendas, discussions and decisions of Vancouver City Council to ensure an intersectional feminist lens is being applied, and the city is considering the impact of their decision making on all members of the Vancouver community - especially equity-seeking women and girls.

Why We Follow Council

Motions passed at Vancouver City Council greatly impact the way we live, interact with the city, the services we access, and much more. These motions, which significantly impact women, can vary from affordable housing options to passing bylaws that impact local businesses. Even the language used in motions can impact its execution, and set the tone for motions to come.

But the problem is that many barriers exist that make civic participation difficult, especially for equity-seeking groups who historically have not had their issues represented on council. To date, Vancouver has yet to elect a woman as Mayor. Watch Council, comprised of people with varying levels of knowledge on city issues, aims to increase engagement in municipal affairs and strengthen our local democracy by tracking, analyzing, and speaking to the motions that matter.

What remains essential to the mandate and goals of Watch Council is the incorporation of an intersectional feminist lens in our analysis and public response to these motions - we understand the value behind intersectionality as we strive to build a more equitable city. Following the actions of council using this lens allows us to track how well the city’s motions respond to the varied needs of our diverse population, informed by the understanding that our systems have historically and continue to enact oppression, and exclude Indigenous, Black, Asian, other racialized women, and other groups who have been made marginalized.

A single motion can impact different people in various ways—for example, while for a local business a proposal for a nearby luxury condominium may be good news, it will not provide the affordable housing needed by local working-class tenants who remain largely racialized, disabled, and older women.

 

This is why an intersectional lens and analysis based on the collaboration of diverse local women to advocate for other women who are routinely made marginalized by similar forces.

How Does Watch Council Work?

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. If there are any motions that significantly impact women, Watch Council members will be immediately notified and meet virtually that same evening to decide how to respond.

After a discussion and final stance on the motions, we decide how we’d like to respond, including:

Write a letter to Mayor and city council outlining our response
Speak to council during the allocated time for public input
Release a press release or public statement with our position
Connect with organizations & individuals to respond to motions together
We then work collectively in the following days to draft and finalize our output.
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If you'd like to support our work and help us transform cities into spaces that work for all people, please consider making a donation to WTC.

Latest from Watch Council

If you have any questions, would like to join our Watch Council, or set up a group in a different municipality, please contact us.