In 2015, Council directed staff to create a city-wide Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) policy as part of the Healthy City Strategy four year action plan (2014-2018). The purpose of a CBA is to ensure that development brings improvement in the lives of people through local hiring and social procurement. For Vancouver residents, this proposed CBA policy emphasizes equity of opportunity for residents. With a quarter of Vancouver’s residents living below the Low-Income Measure, the third highest rate of any city in Canada, and with the second highest income gap of any Canadian city, Vancouver’s CBA policy will help ensure decent paying jobs across the life-cycle of development are more equitably distributed in communities. This new policy environment will signal opportunities and needs in the years ahead through which CBAs can be strategically crafted and implemented, maximizing opportunities for workforce development, supplier diversity, and capacity building in communities and sectors. This will help to reach the City’s goals of improving economic security and affordability for its residents, in particular those who are statistically overrepresented in poverty and precarious employment.
The policy also seeks to leverage Vancouver’s unique business environment, which includes having among the highest concentration of social enterprises in North America, and the opportunity for approaches to supporting business and livelihoods through procurement in Vancouver and across the region. While the City has entered into CBAs over the past decade, approaches are not standardized and lack predictability as well as consistent and effective implementation and monitoring. The proposed CBA policy is based on lessons learned from past CBAs and in particular the Parq Urban Resort and Casino pilot, which saw a more robust form of monitoring and reporting and established practices now included in this draft CBA Policy including employment opportunities beyond construction phase. An examination of international best practice and local engagement has played a significant role in formalizing the City’s approach to required community benefit agreements.
If adopted, it will be the first CBA policy of any major city in Canada and will support our vision of a healthier city for all. The report also outlines a possible implementation framework to support successful implementation, including proactive issues management, a cross-sector support system, and monitoring and evaluation for ongoing learning.