January 27, 2005



Wendy Au/
Lindsey Richardson


Phone No.:



RTS No.:



CC File No.:



Meeting Date:

February 15, 2004


Standing Committee on Transportation and Traffic


City Manager


City of Vancouver initiatives related to the recommendations in Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project


THAT Council receive this report for INFORMATION.


The City Manager submits this report for Council’s INFORMATION.


There is no applicable Council Policy directly related to Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project.


City Council and the City of Vancouver are actively engaged in many of the issues identified in the Practicing Democracy report. For those recommendations that refer to issues that fall within the mandate of the municipal government, the City’s ongoing efforts are widespread and are regular components of departments’ day-to-day programming. Further, City Council has previously embraced motions advocating positive solutions to many of the issues raised by the Practicing Democracy project.

This report briefly outlines the City’s activities in the five subject areas of housing, support, money, food and safety. It also outlines a number of new initiatives, including City’s Homelessness Action Plan, the Food Policy Task Force, the Women’s Task Force, the NAOMI project and the Strategy for the Prevention of Drug Use. More information about the specific outcomes of these initiatives will be available in future reports.


This report intends to give Council a brief accounting of current and ongoing City initiatives related to the recommendations contained in the report Practicing Democracy – a Legislative Theatre Project dated April 21, 2004, from Headlines Theatre.


On February 27, 2003, Council voted to endorse the Headlines Theatre “Practicing Democracy” Project. Practicing Democracy is a legislative theatre project designed to create a forum for public dialogue and participation in the creation of public policy and law. Performances were held in March 2004 that explored the question “How can the City of Vancouver respond to the results of the cuts to welfare?”

Audience members were invited to participate if they had an idea to change the action or outcome by intervening in a second performance each night, and replacing a character engaged in a struggle to try out their idea. These interventions, and further ideas that arose during discussion, were recorded and assembled by a legal consultant into a report to Vancouver City Council. The Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project’s recommendations are attached to this report as Appendix A.

The Practicing Democracy report was presented to the Standing committee on Planning and Environment on May 6, 2004. The Committee recommended to Council

The City Manager’s office subsequently convened several meetings of City officials whose area of responsibility was mentioned in the recommendations of Practicing Democracy – A Legislative Theatre Project. Departments were asked to review the report and provide details on relevant activities and initiatives. This report outlines their input as it pertains to the Practicing Democracy recommendations. It was written with contributions from the following City departments: The Housing Centre, Social Planning, Current Planning, Engineering, Legal Services, the City Manager’s Office, City Clerk’s Office, the Chief Building Officials’ Office, The Drug Policy Office, Community Services, the Vancouver Agreement, and the Vancouver Police Department.

The separate report on fire and safety issues for SROs requested by City Council was submitted as a memo in June 2004 and is attached to this report as Appendix B.


The Practicing Democracy project put forward a number of innovative ideas and constructive recommendations about how to address recent cuts to social services. Ranging from small changes that could have big impacts on the lives of citizens and residents to broad policy changes at all levels of government, the recommendations put forward by Headlines Theatre warrant careful consideration.

Therefore, the City conducted a recommendation-by-recommendation analysis of the Practicing Democracy report, which is attached to this report as Appendix C. Each recommendation was classified into one or more of six categories. These categories were:

The analysis therefore clarifies whether or not the City could reasonably consider undertaking any particular Practicing Democracy recommendation for further exploration.

It is apparent through this analysis that many of the Practicing Democracy recommendations fall outside the jurisdiction of the municipal government or are less feasible. In many instances, the City partners with community organizations and other levels of government to address these social service issues. Recommendations that advocate measures outside the power and purview of the City are not addressed in this report.

However, as indicated by those recommendations that fall into the first category - work in progress - the City of Vancouver works extensively to address many of the issues identified by the Practicing Democracy report. It also supports numerous organizations and service delivery agencies that have been affected by the cuts.

The recommendations contained in Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project are organized into five key subject areas, which are:

City activities, programs, and initiatives that address the issues raised in the Practicing Democracy report are discussed briefly below. This discussion is organized according to Practicing Democracy’s five subject areas. Any further work based on Practicing Democracy recommendations will have to be undertaken at the direction of City Council.

I. Housing

City Mandate

The City has several housing functions:
· To create opportunities for social housing, mainly in partnership with senior governments;
· To provide relocation and housing referral assistance to displaced tenants;
· To encourage development and retention of affordable housing; and
· The City owns and operates seven projects providing housing for singles and families living on low incomes.

Current Initiatives

Target Groups
· There are a number of shelters and housing that provide housing to specific clientele, including women, youth and aboriginals in Vancouver. In general, the City has favoured integrated housing that mixes incomes and avoids segregating one group from another while recognizing that some segregation is appropriate e.g. family housing may include some non-family households but families need to dominate if a family environment is to be sustained. There are 300 non-market housing projects in the City (21,000 units) that include integrated housing as well as housing restricted to specific groups.
· In terms of community housing, the City has been a strong supporter of co-operative housing and 100 of the 300 non-market housing projects in the City are co-operatives.
· A draft Homelessness Action Plan was presented to Council on November 2, 2004 and is being circulated for public input. It will address the role and need for shelters in the City, including identifying gaps.

1) Women
· The City has supported increasing the supply of shelter services for women, e.g. providing a capital grant to the Salvation Army’s Belkin House, and making available a City building for a temporary winter shelter for women. No shelters have been closed due to provincial funding cut-backs, but if they were, the City would probably not be able to replace the funding as shelters are very expensive to operate.
· Some non-market housing e.g. Crabtree Corner has been developed for pregnant women, and more has been built for low income families, many of which are single parent/women led families. The focus of the social housing developed in the City has been on economic need and equity, and specific groups, such as low income families and women which experience higher incidences of economic need than other groups, tend to be the beneficiaries of investments in social housing. The issue of housing for women is currently being worked on by the Women’s Task Force.

2) Seniors
· Most co-op housing in the city has been built for families. There has been some discussion of the co-operative housing sector sponsoring the development of seniors housing for their members. Allowing welfare recipients to use the shelter component of welfare to buy housing needs falls within the Province’s jurisdiction. It would need some broad public discussion around issues of equity e.g. different treatment for low-income households some of whom collect welfare and others who work, and the use of tax payer subsidies to build individual equity.
· Regarding changes to the Residential Tenancy Act, City Council decided to give the Province recommendations on the new act at its June 24, 2003 meeting.

Improve Accessibility
· Shelter funding and operations are the responsibility of the Province. The City supports full service 24 hour/day shelters.
· The City has provided funding for the housing registry that BC Housing and the BC Non-Profit Housing Assn. recently established. The City also funded the former YWCA registry that was shut down because of funding cut backs in 1996. That registry provided a broader range of services than the current registry and we hope the new registry will expand over time to provide a full range of registry services to private as well as non-profit landlords and their prospective tenants.
· Ensuring easy access to information regarding services, shelter and housing is important. The shelter providers currently work together and co-ordinate their activities so they can respond to severe weather conditions and ensure that if one shelter is full someone in need is referred to a shelter that has a vacancy. The proposed Homelessness Action Plan will include actions related to the expansion of the housing registry to improve access to information and coordination of services.

Increase Availability
1) Emergency Shelters:
· Emergency shelters are the responsibility of the Province. The Homelessness Action Plan will address the role of ‘tent cities’, outdoor homeless campgrounds, expansion of emergency shelters.
· The City makes the Gathering Place in Downtown South and the Evelyn Saller available for emergency shelters during severe weather conditions. Funding is provided by the Ministry of Human Resources. Expanding into community centres and neighbourhood houses is possible if MHR or other funding is available and the need is there, noting that community centres and neighbourhood houses have evening and early morning programming so it may not be possible to use those facilities for shelters without disruption.
· There is a co-ordinated response to severe weather conditions across the region and in the city. In addition to the City opening up the Gathering Place and Evelyn Saller Centre, churches and community services provide shelter. As well, the existing year round shelters expand their capacity during the cold/wet seasons and during severe weather conditions. To date, the community’s response to severe weather has been adequate to accommodate the shelterless needing to come in from the cold. Expanding the capacity to neighbourhoods outside the downtown is being pursued.
· MHR through their emergency response program is responsible for providing emergency accommodation e.g. in hotels. MHR’s program is targeted to those displaced by emergencies such as fires and not to the homeless, except for families who are provided with vouchers. Many of the homeless aren’t eligible for welfare. City Council has called on the Province to reform the welfare system so that those at risk of homelessness can get welfare and not end up on the street.
· The City has very few vacant buildings and even fewer might work for shelters because of state of repair or location (shelters need to be well served by transit and close to services including inexpensive food). We are using one building on a site reserved for social housing for a women’s cold/wet weather shelter funded through the Federal Government and would consider similar arrangements if Federal or Provincial funding were available. Even temporary shelters require capital funding and funding for operations.

2) Temporary Shelters:
· As discussed above, the location of shelters and the suitability of buildings need to be considered, as well as the question of the capital and operating costs. Many of the buildings suggested aren’t owned by the City and the permission of the owner would be required. The fundamental question, given limited resources, is how much to invest in shelters, temporary or permanent, as opposed to investing in permanent housing.

· The City currently allows homeowners to take in boarders, and citizens or the community could ‘foster’ the homeless if they wish. A fostering or billeting model, with subsidies provided to homeowners, would be an issue for the Ministries of Human Resources and Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services.

Earlier this year, the City rezoned all single family districts in Vancouver to allow for a secondary suite in all one-family dwellings. The Province currently funds limited rent supplement programs (Supported Independent Living for the disabled and mentally ill), and Shelter Assistance for Elderly Renters – SAFER).

3) Transitional Housing:
· The draft Homelessness Action Plan addresses the role of transitional housing in the context of the supportive housing continuum. The issue, highlighted by the difficulties experienced by VanCity Place for Youth, is the importance of funding for the operations of transitional and all other supportive housing. Staffing 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is required along with specialized support services such as counselling, job training, life skills, etc. The successful transition of VanCity Place for Youth to Covenant House’s Rites of Passage program was only possible through the infusion of substantial operating dollars, and even so the program has yet to achieve full capacity because of the limited operating funding available. Senior government funding to cover the operational costs of staffing and support services is essential to the success of supportive housing.

4) Long-term Housing:
· Vancouver’s success in developing over 21,000 units of social housing in the past 50 years is due to its commitment to partnering with the Federal and Provincial government social housing programs. By selling or leasing sites to non-profit sponsors of social housing, the City has facilitated the development of 300 non-profit rental and co-operative housing projects. The City’s primary role has been to make sites available to non-profit sponsors and the City continues to hold sites for social housing should Federal or Provincial funding be made available. A component of this program is to require developers of new neighbourhoods to make sites available for social housing. Earlier this year the City amended the zoning by-laws to allow secondary suites in all single family areas of Vancouver.
· The City currently allows up to 5 unrelated persons to occupy a dwelling unit. There are no zoning requirements that limit occupancy. Overcrowding is not a solution to Vancouver’s housing problems but shared living has long been part of Vancouver’s housing environment, whether students are sharing a house or a condominium owner rents out a bedroom to assist in paying the mortgage.
· Housing that mixes household types (singles and families) or generations (young families and seniors) has been developed successfully in Vancouver, for example Four Sisters Co-operative and more recently Mole Hill. The key is to provide choice so that those that want to live in housing that mixes household types and generations can, and those that don’t want to can live in housing that doesn’t. The City’s primary focus has been on creating housing that mixes incomes and which requires Federal and Provincial funding.
· We have recently seen a substantial movement of renters into ownership due to low interest rates and minimal down payment requirements. These are the two most crucial factors affecting the ability of renters to buy their own home. In the current circumstances, a rent-to-own program may not add much capacity as rents are not much lower than mortgage payments for many older condominiums.

· The Province has a major role to play in providing affordable housing and solving homelessness.

5) Financing Creation of More Shelters:
· The City currently levies a City-wide fee (Development Cost Levy or DCL) of $6/sq. ft. on all new development. Of this, 32% goes to affordable housing to replace housing that may be lost to redevelopment. In addition, as a condition of rezoning the City requires that developers make a Community Amenity Contribution of which affordable housing is often one of the beneficiaries.
· In 2004, the City doubled the City-wide DCL and increased the oldest DCL in the City by 50%.
· The non-profit societies that provide shelters, such as Lookout Emergency Aid Society, Triage Emergency Services and the Salvation Army have well established fund raising and donation programs.
· Currently the hotel tax in Vancouver funds the tourist promotion and services for the City. The City, through its DCLs etc., uses other vehicles for raising funds for affordable housing and shelters.

Improve Management of Shelters and Housing
· A number of shelter providers, e.g. Lookout, Triage and Bridge had input from shelter users and the homeless in the design and operation of their facilities. The draft Homelessness Action Plan was developed with input from the homeless as well as from providers of shelter and services to the homeless. The City’s Tenant Assistance Co-ordinator periodically visits the homeless between midnight and dawn to get a better understanding of their issues and needs, and providers of shelter and services interact with the homeless on a regular basis as well to learn what works and what doesn’t.
· In late 2003, Council approved the Single Room Accommodation By-law to control the conversion or demolition of the residential hotels and rooming houses in the downtown. The Residential Tenancy Act requires that landlords allow guests.
· There are 200 SRA buildings with 7,000 units in Vancouver. The City does support the acquisition of SRA buildings by non-profit societies, and supports private landlords entering into operating agreements with non-profit societies whereby the non-profit society manages the building on behalf of the owner.

Improve Public Service Treatment of Homeless
· The Police, Park Bd. and Engineering staff work closely with the City’s Tenant Assistance Program to address the needs of the homeless as well as their impact on neighbouring communities. The Tenant Assistance Program provides training to staff departments as to who the homeless are and how best to deal with them.
· The City’s Tenant Assistance Program works with Elections Canada and others to ensure that the homeless have an opportunity to vote. The homeless can use facilities like shelters, community centres, public libraries, etc as an address to vote.

II. Support

City Mandate

The City of Vancouver is not specifically mandated to support these groups. However, the City uses its Community Services Grants to help ensure equitable access to appropriate social services and to enhance the ability of community organizations to successfully address social issues. The Social Planning Department is mandated to work with community organizations, including groups which work with seniors and women. Through these grants, Social Planning's work, and other networks, the City facilitates linkages and collaboration that improve service provision and program delivery for a number of community agencies, centres and other related initiatives. This work contributes to a diverse, sustainable and equitable society. Further, the Vancouver Agreement provides a forum for the City to advocate with senior levels of government on behalf of City residents, specifically those on the Downtown East Side (DES).

Current Initiatives

Current work and initiatives related to seniors’ issues include:
· The City provides Community Services Grants to 18 different seniors programs ($476,000). These seniors groups all provide programs and activities for seniors and several provide outreach and friendly visiting. These latter include Chinese Community Library, DERA seniors, Jewish Family Services Seniors, West End Seniors Network, Neighbourhood Helpers. Many seniors groups have phone trees to check on members. All of the above groups provide a place for seniors to gather, share information and build networks.
· Some City-funded seniors groups provide outreach counselors/multilingual counselors, and seniors Peer Counseling.
· 23 Community Centres, which are supported by the City, also provide drop in space and programming for seniors.
· Community building initiatives supported by Social Planning include:

· Seniors are integrated in the CityPlan process.
· The City’s Newcomers Guide provides information for all ages, and is published in 5 languages.
· The City’s Special Advisory Committee on Seniors Issues has a mandate to discuss and make proposals on any issues within the City mandate that affect seniors.

It should be noted that Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for all Home Support, Home Care, and health related outreach for seniors. However, the City co-funds some community based programs with VCH, such as Seniors Peer Counselling. The City also works closely with VCH on planning of seniors supported housing/assisted living; seniors care facilities, and any plans that VCH has for new construction of hospital and community health facilities.

The City works with a number of different groups to address the issues facing women in vulnerable and low-income situations. The Social Planning Department and other City staff work with various women’s organizations. City Community Services and Childcare Grants assist women’s organizations and day care facilities.

Initiatives that support women include:
· A Women’s Task Force initiated by City Council and co-chaired by Councillors Roberts and Woodsworth to further work on women’s issues. A progress report from the task force was submitted to Council in November 2004.
· Social Planning staff are currently working with other funders to stabilize the operation of the DES Women’s Centre, and WISH Drop In;
· City staff participate in the Vancouver Agreement Women’s Task Group, which is supporting initiatives for women in the DES;
· The City Community Services Grants fund 14 different groups which focus on services to women (approx $350,000 in 2004);
· The City has a very extensive Childcare Strategy which includes development of new childcare centres and grants to enhance the operation of inner-city childcare, enhance programs and help stabilize centres;
· Some City-supported services focus specifically on at-risk children, provision of emergency child care, and supports to single mothers; and

Indeed, the City’s involvement goes beyond the recommendations in the Practicing Democracy report in its support of services to women, also including support for at-risk children, emergency child care, inner-city childcare, women’s centres, and other programs.

Sex Trade Workers
The City of Vancouver is involved in work related to sex-trade workers through multiple avenues. Its City Community Services Grants include grants to WISH Drop in for sex trade workers, and PACE. City staff participate in the Vancouver Agreement’s Women’s Task Team and other Vancouver Agreement initiatives that address issues faced by sex trade workers. The VPD are working with sex trade workers on de-escalation techniques and other initiatives. Further, the Vancouver Agreement is working with a coalition of community groups and organizations on a new project to develop a well-informed, multi-pronged approach to addressing the health, safety and other impacts of street-based prostitution.

Urban Bush Dwellers
City Council has recognized the impacts of the social service and other cuts on the homeless and has urged the provincial government to provide adequate funding and to re-instate funding to a number of programs including Income Assistance time limits and reducing benefits, health care services, including mental health and substance use services, community social services, etc. City Council has also encouraged the Union of BC Municipalities to do likewise.

In terms of services, the City provides a number of these to the homeless, often through community centres. For example the Evelyne Saller Centre and the Gathering Place provide free laundry services and showers. Kitsilano Community Centre has a weekly free shower and breakfast program.

Many of the issues related to 'urban bush dwellers' will be included in the Homeless Action Plan, such as outreach, mental health services, etc.

Health Issues

Health issues are the mandate of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. However, the Vancouver Agreement is working with health authorities to improve the general health of citizens on the Downtown Eastside.

Drug Addictions
The Community Services Drug Policy Group’s vision is of a civic culture that is aware and involved in empowering communities, has access to appropriate services and participates in fostering community health and reducing drug related harm. Their goal is to implement a comprehensive and evidence based approach to problematic substance use in Vancouver across the four pillars of prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement.

The City of Vancouver has been widely recognized for its innovative approach to the issues related to drug use and the reduction of drug related harm. The Community Services Drug Policy Group’s initiatives that work towards this goal include:
· Developing and implementing policy on pharmacies that have methadone;
· Working with the community to improve access to methadone (conference on 20-21 of September on methadone maintenance in the province);
· Developing strategy to deal with crack smoking and exploring, with community and government partners, the initiation of a safe inhalation room pilot project within the supervised injection site in the DES;
· Develop strategies to move the Supervised Injection Site the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI) programs from research to programs, if evaluation finds success;
· Methamphetamine strategy for education and awareness re: precursors that can be used to manufacture methamphetamine;
· Analyze the need for utilizing current SIS at full capacity and creating additional injection sites in the city;
· Participating in ongoing enforcement planning focusing on the drug trade; and
· Participating on the Vancouver Agreement Addictions and Harm Reduction Task Team with the goal of maximizing access to addictions programs for all populations.

The Drug Policy team is developing and will implement a Strategy for the Prevention of Drug Use in Vancouver through a community involvement process, with a focus on youth. It plans to release the draft Problematic Substance Use Prevention Strategy in Spring of 2005, and will present the strategy to City Council in later this year.

Staff Training and Development

The City incorporates training related to vulnerable and marginalized groups for many of its front-line employees. For example, Engineering Services is developing a training package for front line workers, supervisors and other Engineering staff who are involved with the delivery of services to the marginalized, or to city areas under stress. The purpose of this training is to increase awareness of the special challenges faced by marginalized people, and their different expectations regarding the delivery of services to them.

III. Money

City Mandate
City Council passed the following resolution on the Encouragement and Protection of Economic Sustainability in Vancouver (File 3501) on September 28, 2004:

Current Initiatives

The City is working with the senior governments through the Vancouver Agreement and the business sector to create employment opportunities for individuals living in poverty. The Vancouver Agreement Employment Strategy’s first focus is creating jobs and training opportunities for multi-barriered Downtown Eastside residents. This will be expanded to other parts of the city through the Inner City Inclusive Olympics Commitment Statement and related initiatives.

The City also participated in the development of the Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization plan for the Downtown Eastside, which outlines strategies and action to increase business activity and job creation. The plan aims to promote business retention and new business development, assist businesses and residents to participate in and benefit from increased economic activities and job opportunities, build on the rich culture and heritage of the Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods, and contribute to a growing sense of community identity and pride. The plan’s three key strategies to stimulate business activity and generate local employment are to increase demand for the Downtown Eastside’s products and services, strengthen the capabilities of local suppliers and increase employment opportunities.

The Vancouver Agreement is creating an organization to help implement its Economic Revitalization Plan. This organization will provide supports to social enterprises and give serious consideration to proposals from social enterprises that train and employ residents to provide services for others in the community. The Vancouver Agreement Economic Revitalization Plan will give priority to employment opportunities for multi-barriered individuals. Special efforts will be given to providing job and business opportunities for women, youth and aboriginal people.

Some of the jobs targeted for low-income residents have been secured through Fast Track to Employment's Social Portal which links businesses purchasing products to suppliers that are willing to hire inner city residents. The City and the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee are using the Social Portal when they put out tenders for purchasing goods and services.

The City is negotiating with developers of large-scale projects such as the Storyeum, Costco, Woodward’s, Trade and Convention Centre and the Casino to secure jobs for multi-barriered local residents as a condition of rezoning and development applications.

The City of Vancouver also funds the Vancouver Economic Development Commission (VEDC). The Vancouver Economic Development Commission was established to promote economic development in the City of Vancouver by working closely with local business, foreign investors, site selection consultants, partners and stakeholders.

City council recognizes the critical importance of issues around income inequality, poverty, and money and is committed to working toward the creation of a diversified, sustainable economy in low-income neighbourhoods.

IV. Food

City Mandate

The City of Vancouver supports the development of a just and sustainable local food system that fosters equitable food production, distribution and consumption; nutrition; community development and environmental health.

Current Initiatives

On July 8, 2003, Vancouver City Council approved a motion supporting the development of a just and sustainable food system for the City of Vancouver. A just and sustainable food system is defined as one in which food production, processing, distribution and consumption are integrated to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place. To provide leadership in achieving this goal, and to build on the work of the Vancouver Agreement Food Task Group, the Lower Mainland Food Coalition and other community groups, a Food Policy Task Force was initiated by City Council. The Task Force was co-chaired by Councillor Tim Louis and the Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, General Manager of Community Services. Two consultation processes took place with the Food Policy Task Force.

The outcome of the first round of consultation was the formulation a Food Action Plan that was presented to Vancouver City Council for approval on December 9, 2003. The Action Plan is made up of three components:

The Food Policy Task Force recommended the creation of a Vancouver Food Policy Council (a voluntary citizen body with formal links to the City system) with a mandate to act as an advisory and policy development body. The aim of the Food Policy Council was identified as improving the health and security of the local food system.

(ii.)Interim Work Plan
In preparation for linkages with the work of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, an interim work plan was proposed. This work plan was intended to be the first stage of a more comprehensive long-term set of actions that will be developed over the longer term. The action items in the interim work plan were chosen because they provided immediate opportunities to coordinate, maximize and expand upon food-related programs and services already provided and/or supported by the City of Vancouver, as well as those under development. The five action items are as follows:

(iii.) Implementation Supports (staffing)
The Food Policy Task Force recommended the creation of two full-time dedicated City staff positions to facilitate food system goals. The two positions are a Food Policy Coordinator (permanent full-time) and Food System Planner (temporary two years).

On March 11, 2004, at the Standing Committee Meeting on City Services and Budgets, Vancouver City Council voted to establish a multi-stakeholder Food Policy Council. In order to support the work of the Food Policy Council, City Council also approved funding for the two staff positions proposed in the Food Action Plan. This, in conjunction with City Council’s approval of the Food Action Plan on December 11, 2003, means that the City of Vancouver now has an official mandate to work towards creating a just and sustainable food system for the City of Vancouver.

From May to July 2004 a second consultation process was undertaken with the Food Policy Task Force. The Primary goal of the consultation process was to establish the Vancouver Food Policy council. On July 14, 2004, the Food Policy Task Force, as its final act, elected members of Vancouver’s first municipally affiliated Food Policy Council. The Food Policy Council will now begin to develop a detailed work plan that integrates and builds upon the projects and goals identified in the Food Action Plan.

An important part of this new City mandate will involve exploring ways to address a number of the issues raised in the ‘Food’ section of the Practicing Democracy recommendations. Adopting a systems approach to food issues (production, processing, distribution, access, consumption and recycling), the City’s food policy and Food Policy Council will continue to address issues of distribution, access and supply of food, especially to marginalized populations. Some of the specific areas that are expected to improve the access and supply of food to Vancouver residents include the following:

(i.) Research Assessment
The City of Vancouver has been awarded a research contract through Western Diversification Canada to conduct a food system assessment. The objective of the food assessment is to provide a comprehensive audit and analysis of the current state of Vancouver’s food system, focusing on the unrealized opportunities in the food system to create and support food-related social enterprises for residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DES).

(ii.) Partnership Development
From the outset of the development of the Food Action Plan it was acknowledged that some of the resources and policy tools necessary to address food system issues fall outside of the jurisdiction of Vancouver. As such, the development of partnerships with other agencies has been, and will continue to be instrumental to the process. Key partners include Vancouver Agreement, Vancouver School Board, Vancouver Park Board and Vancouver Coastal Health and community organizations among others.

(iii.) Urban Agriculture
The City of Vancouver’s Food Action Plan endorses the creation of more community gardens on under-utilized City land (other than park space), and investigating the possibility of providing spaces to grow food in private developments. The City of Vancouver has approximately 580 community garden plots in 12 operating community gardens. Since the Park Board approved a community gardens policy 1995, additional community gardens on City land have been established or expanded. Even with the notable successes of the existing policy, it is clear that there is a great untapped opportunity to further develop community gardens and other forms of urban agriculture in Vancouver.

The Park Board, at their Planning & Environment meeting of July 6th, 2004, discussed the issue of community gardens on park land, and requested a policy review be undertaken within 1 year. Further, Park Board staff participated in the American Community Gardens Association Conference and pre-conference Municipal Training Day in Toronto Sept. 30 – October 3. Park Board representatives convened a meeting with other delegates from Vancouver attending the conference to network and share learning.

(iv.) Fruit Trees on City Land
At the Vancouver Park Board meeting on Monday, February 9, 2004, a motion was passed requesting staff to explore the possibility of planting fruit trees along streets, community gardens and parks. At a follow up meeting held on May 13, staff discussed the benefits and concerns relating to planting fruit trees in parks, community gardens and on streets. The meeting finished off with the group identifying opportunities such as introducing a trial program of planting selected fruit tree varieties on streets; considering the possibility of a community orchard if an established group is willing to steward it; and running educational programs out of our community centres focusing on fruit production.

The Park Board considered the issue of fruit trees in parks and on boulevards at the meeting of the Planning & Environment Committee on October 5, 2004.

(v.) Green Roofs
The Action Plan calls for a feasibility study of rooftop gardens on residential and industrial buildings. The aim will be to examine the opportunities for facilitating, where possible, the inclusion of rooftop gardens on flat-roofed residential developments, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings.

Role of the Vancouver Food Policy Council
The Vancouver Food Policy Council began to meet in September 2004. In the coming months, the Food Policy Council will develop a work plan that may include strategies to address the issues listed above, and possibly other initiatives.

While still at its initial stages of development, the City’s commitment to creating a Just and Sustainable Food System is making progress on a number of recommendations from the Practicing Democracy Report. It should also be noted that the City’s new food policy mandate includes many aspects not mentioned in the report. In many cases, the emphasis is on community capacity building and neighbourhood empowerment.


Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Mandate

The Vancouver Police Department’s mandate includes:
· A mission, in fulfilment of its public trust, to maintain public order, uphold the rule of law and prevent crime.
· Identified VPD values of integrity, professionalism, accountability and respect.
· A Diversity Advisory Committee whose mandate is to represent the diverse view points of the citizens of Vancouver, and its role to advise the Vancouver Police Department through the Chief, its mission is to ensure a safe, secure, fair and suitable city and/or environment for a diverse population provided through state-of-the-art policing.

Current VPD Initiatives

Community Policing
The Vancouver Police Department Strategic plan includes Community Safety as a core activity. One of the areas that the VPD focuses on specifically is violence against vulnerable people. Some of the people in this group are the elderly, children, sex trade workers, and occupants of single room dwellings. In order to reduce the violence against this group, VPD must first ensure that crimes against these people are being reported. To that end the VPD is improving its reporting rate by working with all of those communities, as well as advocacy groups, and schools. They are increasing their ability to investigate these types of crimes by training officers and victim service volunteers to overcome societal barriers. In addition the VPD is developing specific investigative abilities to ensure that officers have the appropriate skill set to properly respond.

Inspector John McKay has provided consulting in Personal Safety and Confrontation Management to numerous private corporations and to community groups. Some of the many groups include Revenue Canada Women’s Committee; Downtown Business Improvement Association; Vancouver Coastal Health Authority; Musqueam Reservation band office staff; Pace, Peers, WISH, sex trade advocacy groups; Mount Pleasant Community Centre, and the United Native Nations Crisis Centre. Some of this consultation was broadcast on Shaw Cable in order to reach a larger audience.

The Vancouver Police Department’s commitment to community policing is further enhanced through its Community Policing Centres (CPC), and through the Chief Constable’s Diversity Advisory Committee.

The focus with the CPC’s is to enhance and promote public safety through the delivery of police-sponsored programs and services to local neighbourhoods. Examples of such services include volunteer patrols, crime prevention information, and traffic safety initiatives and public education. The Vancouver Police Department has partnerships with 8 CPC’s across the City. Funding for the CPC’s is provided by the City of Vancouver, ICBC, and a variety of other public and private sources.

In order to address the specific safety needs of diverse communities the Chief Constable has established the “Chief Constable’s Diversity Advisory Committee”. This committee was established to deal with issues that impact diverse communities. The appointed citizens to the committee sit as a consultative and advisory body to the Office of the Chief Constable.

Consistent with the Diversity Advisory Committee’s mandate to represent the diverse view points of the citizens of Vancouver, and its role to advise the Vancouver Police Department through the Chief, its mission is to ensure a safe, secure, fair and suitable city and/or environment for a diverse population provided through state-of-the-art policing.
The contribution of the Committee is to bring about the following results:


There are no financial implications stemming directly from this report. This report does not propose any new programs or initiatives, and requests no additional funding than what is already allocated to the initiatives to which it makes reference.


Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project represents a unique citizen engagement process that produced many innovative recommendations about ways to counteract cuts in funding to social services and welfare programs. It also suggests ways to improve the quality of life of Vancouver citizens and residents through the strengthening of the social safety net.

This report outlines the City’s current and ongoing activities as they relate to the Practicing Democracy recommendations. The City of Vancouver engages many of the issues identified in the Practicing Democracy report, and is committed to moving forward in a number of areas.

Several City initiatives are in the early stages of development, and their implications may not yet be felt in the community. These include the City’s proposed Homelessness Action Plan, the Food Policy Task Force, the Women’s Task Force, the NAOMI project and the forthcoming Strategy for the Prevention of Drug Use.

A detailed analysis of the current status and feasibility of each recommendation in the Practicing Democracy report has been completed. Any further work based on the project’s recommendations will have to be undertaken at the direction of City Council.

* * * * *

 Appendix A
Recommendations in Practicing Democracy: A Legislative Theatre Project


A. Target Groups

(1) Women

(2) Seniors

B. Improve Accessibility:

· Mandate shelters to offer more flexible hours of operation
· Create and maintain a housing registry that will help link single mothers with seniors and others who are isolated – combining skills and resources can afford both better living accommodations and support
· Up to date information on shelters and services should be available 24 hours per day through drop-in centers or information kiosks; new services need more publicity, as many in attendance reported learning of new resources through a third party, often too late to help the individual in crisis
- Drop-in centers stay open 24 hours per day; a place for homeless to access information on what services are available in emergency situations;
- Staff drop-in centers with volunteer residents experienced in homelessness;
- 24 hour kiosk, preferably staffed, or minimally with access to computer, with up to date information on shelter and support services available throughout the city, and on individual rights;
- reinstate/expand Carnegie program involving street workers handing out information in DTES

C. Increase Availability:
(1) Emergency shelters

(2) Temporary Shelters

(3) Transitional Housing

(4) Long-term Housing

(5) Financing creation of more shelters:

D. Improve Management of Shelters and Housing:

E. Improve Public Service Treatment of Homeless:


A. Access

B. Supply

C. Funding:
(1) Tax Revenue

(2) Other Sources


A. Police

B. Community Safety


A. Seniors
(1) Connection

o City Council could approach Telus to bridge the gap for isolated seniors on limited income by providing free or reasonably priced phone or cell phone plans geared to income;
o Create a regulation mandating SRAs to supply in-suite phone to seniors, individuals with mobility restrictions

· Support development of Network to connect seniors

· Community building initiatives that include seniors

(2) Health Issues

B. Women

D. Sex Trade Workers

E. Urban Bush Dwellers

F. Drug Addictions

· View addiction as a health issue, not a poverty issue; wealthy addicts are rarely newsworthy, and can gain immediate access to treatment with money; low income addicts have to wait and are in a catch-22 situation, as it is difficult to access detox treatment during sick periods
· Proceed with the Four Pillars strategy, and in particular to create and make available more treatment programs
· Detox available on demand: requires more beds and programs
· More safe injection sites – e.g. Community facilities; advertise existing ones; ease addictions by supplying drug in a safe way
· Make medical heroin available2; legalize access – see e.g. Netherlands
· Provide alternative drugs e.g. methadone


A. Income Assistance:

B. Employment, Job Creation

Appendix B
Report on Fire and Safety Issues Affecting SROs

Chief Building Official's Office

MEMORANDUM June 17, 2004


Mayor and Councillors



Judy Rogers, City Manager
Jacquie Forbes-Roberts, General Manager, CSG
Cameron Gray, Director Housing Centre
Scott Henderson, Assistant General Manager/Deputy Chief Fire Prevention



John Robertson , Chief Building Official in consultation with the Deputy Chief Fire Prevention and the Director of Housing



Report on Fire and Safety Issues Affecting SROs


This is to respond to Council’s request of May 6, 2004 for a report relating specifically to fire and safety issues affecting SROs. Some general background material on the evolution of Building codes in the City and details on the 1970’s fire safety upgrade program for hotels, rooming houses and seniors homes is contained in the attached memo to Council dated August 8, 2003.

In general terms, all SROs in hotels and rooming houses in the City constructed prior to the adoption of the National Building Code of Canada in 1973 were inspected and upgraded as appropriate under the Fire Safety Upgrade Program of the 1970’s. This program was initiated in 1973 with most of the upgrading taking place in the period 1973-1975. The program was administered through the Fire Warden’s office and was applied initially to hotels and rooming houses and subsequently extended to seniors’ homes and hospitals.

The main components of the upgrade measures included:

Some rental apartment buildings were also included in the upgrade program although sprinkler protection was not mandatory for these buildings.

Detailed records from the 1970’s period covering these inspections and upgrades are somewhat dispersed in City filing systems, however, based on the information available to us we believe that virtually all hotels of any size and most larger rooming houses in use as SROs at that time were upgraded under the program. Certainly the improved fire safety record of our stock of SRO buildings was highlighted by the significant decline in fire casualties in the City from 1973 onwards.

It should also be noted that many of the upgrade orders of the 1970’s were challenged and taken before the Building Board of Appeal. Based on the decisions of the Board, the City developed a subsection of our Building By-law dealing exclusively with upgrading of buildings when undergoing significant renovation, change of use, or additions. These requirements were placed in the Building By-law in 1978, and represent, I believe, the first such provisions to be adopted by a Canadian City in its Building By-law. Since 1978, the By-law has required that all buildings greater than 4 storeys in building height converted to residential use including SROs be sprinklered in addition to other appropriate fire safety measures. In 1987, this requirement was changed to require sprinklering of all SRO conversions.

While it is possible that some smaller SROs were not upgraded under the 1970’s Fire Safety Upgrade Program, or that some have been converted to SROs in contravention of City By-laws, we would expect that the routine fire inspection of hotels and rooming houses conducted by our Fire Prevention Office would normally handle these situations.

In assessing fire safety hazards in buildings it should be noted that design and construction standards represent only one part of the picture. Standards of operation and maintenance, along with occupant behaviour in fire situations are equally significant.

Operating and maintenance standards require annual inspection and testing of fire safety equipment including fire alarms, extinguishers, sprinklers, fire door closers, etc. While our Fire Prevention Office will attempt to deal with these situations, there may be situations in smaller buildings or buildings operated covertly which have not come to our attention.

Occupant behaviour is also a very significant determinant in the fire safety of buildings. Occupants with physical or cognitive disabilities including hearing and vision impairments are particularly vulnerable in fire emergencies as they may not be capable of recognising and acting upon the early signs of fire and may need assistance in evacuating the building. It was for these reasons that the City moved to mandate the sprinklering of SROs, as this measure is an extremely effective strategy in protecting persons who may not be fully capable of self preservation.

The other significant safety issue affecting SROs is the issue of their vulnerability to the effects of earthquakes. This is a much broader issue affecting large numbers of buildings in the City with occupants from a broad cross section of our society including many from outside our boundaries. It is beyond the scope of this report to examine this problem in any depth, but I would note that the problem is under review by staff. Currently we are developing recommendations for a long term strategy to address the more serious areas of seismic vulnerability in the City. The main focus of this strategy would be to provide some rudimentary yet cost effective upgrading methodology for unreinforced masonry (URM) buildings in the City. These buildings, constructed in the period 1890-1930 were originally constructed mainly as hotels, commercial buildings, and large apartment buildings. While in economically vibrant areas of the City such as Yaletown and parts of Gastown, these buildings have been extensively renovated and seismically upgraded, many of the older URM buildings including hotels and rooming houses used to provide SRO accommodation have not. These older URM buildings will be the primary focus of our forthcoming report.

John Robertson
Phone: 604-873-7522
Fax: 604-873-7100




1 paraSITEs were developed by Michael Rakowitz in New York and proposes the appropriation of the

2 5 On March 15, 2004, the Development Permit Board of Vancouver City Council approved the
development of the NAOMI Project, involving the clinical trial of medically prescribed heroin/methadone