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qRD anti-racial discrimination, anti-racism policy requires clarification

Document questions raised at qathet Regional District committee of the whole meeting
DIRECTORS QUERY: qathet Regional District staff have adapted an anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism policy for the regional board to pass, but at the recent committee of the whole discussion, some directors had questions about it, so the policy has been referred back to staff.

A qathet Regional District (qRD) anti-racial discrimination and anti-racism policy will go back to staff for further clarification.

At the September 8 committee of the whole meeting, directors considered recommending that the regional board adopt the policy that had been presented.

Electoral Area C director Clay Brander said he strongly supported the move.

Electoral Area E director Andrew Fall said he appreciated the work staff put into adapting a template from the Lidstone and Company law office.

“I think this is the right move,” said Fall, who suggested some structural changes to the document, so corporate officer Michelle Jones suggested that the document, with changes, be referred back to staff.

Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne said he liked the policy, but he had some concerns.

He asked if the policy could potentially be weaponized by the majority to prevent the minority from calling out the privilege held by the majority.

“Quite often, when discussions are raised, or systemic racism and those kinds of things are brought forward, sometimes, the minority is having to call out what the majority aren’t aware of,” said Gisborne.

Sometimes the board brings in policies that make it difficult for elected officials to talk about racism and racial discrimination, added Gisborne. He said as a result, sometimes it can have the opposite effect of what is intended.

“If we move forward with the anti-racism policy, does that mean members of the board will be allowed to discuss things like exclusionary zoning, or inadvertent segregation effects that may be existing in our policies?” asked Gisborne.

Electoral Area D director and committee chair Sandy McCormick said land use issues are for the planning committee and the effects would be considered by that committee.

“This is quite a different matter for consideration of the whole board,” added McCormick.

City director George Doubt had questions about the policy in terms of maintaining confidentiality for people who are protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. He wondered who was and who wasn’t protected.

Jones said staff and elected officials are addressed in the proposed policy. She said items concerning elected officials were generally not protected under the act.

Doubt asked if there was a definition of people not protected by the policy because he believes it is an important part.

“It’s important that if we are going to protect some people’s confidentiality, and not others, it should be clearly defined whose privacy is not being protected,” said Doubt.

Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon moved that the matter be sent back to staff for clarification.

Gisborne said he wondered about how pervasive this policy was. He said he assumed by reading the policy, that it applies across the entire organization. He asked if it applied to the planning service.

McCormick said if it’s a policy of the board, it applies to the function of the board, including the planning function.

The committee voted to refer the matter to staff.

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