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Parts of Vancouver Charter to be rewritten to address 'patriarchal language'

Last Updated Oct 21, 2020 at 1:40 am PST

FILE - Vancouver City Hall (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Vancouver City Hall is looking to change the Vancouver Charter to address sexist, patriarchal language

Council unanimously passed councillor Pete Fry's motion asking city staff to look at the Charter

Fry adds the change would also help support non-binary people who wish to go into civic politics

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver City Council has taken a step towards taking a second look at parts of the Vancouver Charter to make it gender-neutral.

Councillor Pete Fry tells NEWS 1130 he noticed the Charter referred to senior positions at City Council only using male pronouns.

“A lot of the language referred to the mayor, the city clerk, the chief finance officer, the chairman — they’re all incredibly gendered language constructs and really kind of reflects that sort of historical patriarchy that isn’t really appropriate anymore.”

He says the language may just be a “light housekeeping motion,” but the change will hopefully help include more people with diverse backgrounds seek public office.

“This probably should have been done years ago, it’s not that. This isn’t especially earth-shattering revelation … this is should have just been a matter of process, many years ago, decades ago, because we’ve had lots of women elected prior to this, and I think it’s just a more appropriate reflection of the contemporary society that we live in.”


He calls the language archaic, patriarchal, and sexist adding more needs to be done to make women and non-binary people welcome in civic politics.

“This was written in the style of 1953 and that’s sort of how people thought. And I just honestly don’t think it really crossed many people’s minds that it was even in there. And if they noticed it they kind of glossed over it.”

His motion passed unanimously and says, considering there has not been a single woman mayor in the city’s 134-year history.

“For me personally, it’s actually more about some of the young women that I know who aspire to this kind of thing and who ask all sorts of really smart questions about my job, and about what the city does.”

“It’d be really hurtful for them to read this and think, ‘Oh, it’s not for me,’ … I felt bad reading it and thinking ‘oh this kind of actively precludes half the population.’ And for these young women that I’m talking to who are really keen, and excited, and smart, and capable, it would be a little bit of a letdown.”

City Staff will now review the Charter and recommend changes to make it gender-neutral — a move Fry calls “symbolic.”