When Wally Oppal released his report last month on the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, there was a lot of discussion about his recommendation for a regional police force.
Many of the other recommendations didnt get much, if any, media play, including a couple that relate to city hall. I asked Mayor Gregor Robertson via email about two of them.
Ill start with this one: That the City of Vancouver create and fund two community-based liaison positions to be filled by individuals who have experience in the survival sex trade.
Robertson: On the issue of the community-based liaison positions, it sounds like a pragmatic approach that will build on the work from our sex trade task force.
In September 2011, the city released a so-called action plan titled Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Protecting Vulnerable Adults and Neighbourhoods Affected by Sex Work.
The reports author, deputy city manager David McLellan (now retired), made several recommendations, including convening a citywide task force to implement the actions. One of those actions calls for the city to include people exiting sex work in its supported employment initiative. Its not clear whether the liaison positions suggested by Oppal would fit into this category.
Also, the mayor didnt indicate how much the positions would cost follow-up questions are always difficult when receiving an email instead of a phone call but he pointed out he directed city manager Penny Ballem to report back to council this month on the city-related recommendations in Oppals report.
The other recommendation I wondered about concerned Robertsons role as chairperson of the Vancouver Police Board. For years, the sitting mayor of Vancouver has doubled as the chairperson of the board.
Back in 1994, when Oppal led a wide-ranging review of policing in the province, he recommended mayors not serve on the police board.
Oppal didnt go that far this time: I recommend that the Police Act be amended to provide that the mayor is an ex officio member of the [Vancouver Police] Board, but has no voting authority.
Robertson: Removing mayors as chairs of police boards is something Ive called for in the past and its good to see it included in the recommendations.
The mayor has told me a couple of times about the awkward position it puts him in when wearing his police board hat and approving budgets for the police department then, as mayor, having to decide whether the city has the budget to fund the police.
I didnt ask him about any of the other recommendations in the report but Robertson made this additional comment: As for the recommendation on more resources from the division of police services, the police board greatly increased its oversight of the VPD since the late 90s. The board will be reviewing all of the Inquiry recommendations that relate to the VPD and discussing them in our upcoming meetings.
The boards next meeting is Jan. 22 while council is scheduled to meet Jan. 15. The recommendation for a regional police force, meanwhile, remains just that a recommendation until provincial and municipal governments say otherwise.
© Copyright 2013