Resolution for criminal record checks defeated

Local government association passes gender neutral language

Dozens of ideas were discussed when Vancouver area mayors and councillors met last month, but one of them from Maple Ridge Coun. Kiersten Duncan really got them riled.

Duncan barely was able to float the idea of requiring criminal record checks for civic election candidates before she was shouted down.

She raised the topic at the Lower Mainland Local Government Association meeting in May.

“People were incredibly upset, really, that they even had to discuss this. People were really upset about it.”

Duncan says that volunteers working for community groups or the city have to provide police criminal record checks even to get unpaid positions.

So why shouldn’t politicians?

Her resolution, which was defeated, was a proposal to amend the Local Government Act and require all candidates to file criminal checks when they submit their nomination documents prior to an election.

“I had people yelling when I was trying to get through my introductory remarks.” She had three minutes, “but I wasn’t even able to get through that.”

Then she had to fight for a standing vote count instead of a show of hands, because it was a close vote.

However, the resolution was defeated.

Duncan figures her fellow councillors and mayors didn’t fully understand the intent. She filed her own criminal record check with her nomination papers when she ran in the Maple Ridge election in 2014.

Duncan also noted that offences committed when people were juveniles don’t show in an adult criminal record search.

One resolution that was accepted was Duncan’s proposal to ask the provincial government to require B.C. cities to use gender-neutral language in all future documents and records. Maple Ridge has already approved that when Duncan brought a similar motion to her own council.

Maple Ridge’s request for transition services for kids between 19 and 24 years old was also supported. Youth under the Ministry of Children and Family Development often lose access to services once they hit the age of 19, says the backgrounder.

Maple Ridge also got support in asking the province to change bank regulations to encourage demolition of decrepit buildings.

Currently, there’s an financial incentive to keep old buildings on a property.

The B.C. government will also be asked to clamp down on pay day loan companies and limit interest rates to 60 per cent a year, down from what can be 600 per cent annual rates that can be charged today, following another resolution proposed by Maple Ridge.

However, another Maple Ridge resolution to put a nickel charge on plastic shopping bags wasn’t approved.

Getting resolutions approved at the local government association will make it easier to get them approved at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September.