West Vancouver council sends racist bullet to province

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West Vancouver wants the province’s land titles agency to locate and remove the racist clauses. The province said it was considering “legislative changes” but did not provide details.

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The provincial government may introduce legislative changes to address racist clauses on land title records, but has refrained from fully endorsing specific solutions proposed by the District of West Vancouver to remove historic language that prohibited certain homes from being owned. to blacks or Asians.

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“Racist land covenants are unacceptable and have no place on land titles across the province,” the Ministry of Forests, which oversees British Columbia’s lands office, said in an email on Tuesday. “We are working to see what more can be done to support this important work, including future legislative changes.”

The ministry did not provide any details on what those changes might be.

Examination of these documents gained momentum a month ago when West Vancouver resident Michele Tung found one attached to her British Properties home and began a petition for their removal, which has now garnered over 4,500 signatures.

A West Vancouver Staff Report said it would cost the district about $1 million to locate all of the covenants, which were rendered unenforceable in 1978 but are still upsetting for residents to read. As these discriminatory clauses also exist in other cities, any change will require a provincial solution, the report adds.

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At Monday night’s council meeting, West Vancouver’s mayor and councilors unanimously backed a resolution plan at this year’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention that calls on the province to have his land titles agency locate and remove all such covenants. Currently, when such documents are brought to the attention of the Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA), they can only cross out the offensive words, as it is illegal to alter official land title records.

“We would all be happy if these alliances didn’t see the light of day again,” the adviser said. said Craig Cameron. “It is incumbent on (the province) to act, and on the LTSA to take care of these commitments that they hold. And I think now that there has been more pressure on them, it will lead them to fix the problem.

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On Tuesday, the Forestry Department said it understood the issue would be raised at the UBCM convention this fall, but did not further commit to taking action as requested by the district.

In a separate email, LTSA spokeswoman Janice Fraser said there are 2.2 million land titles and millions of historical records in paper, microfiche and digital format. The organization has launched a multi-year project to digitize all records and is working with Simon Fraser University to determine if artificial intelligence software can be used to speed up the location of racist language.

“While initial work with (artificial intelligence) is promising, there is still a lot of work to be done to realize its full potential,” Fraser’s email states.

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West Vancouver County Marcus Wang.  Photo: Office of Councilor Marcus Wong.
West Vancouver County Marcus Wang. Photo: Office of Councilor Marcus Wong. PNG

In an interview on Tuesday, Tung said that while she recognizes other cities are struggling with these commitments, West Vancouver is in a unique position as a private company, British Pacific Properties, is responsible for developing the large residential area. where she and other owners found these rings. She wonders why the board didn’t ask the company to help her.

“I don’t know why there isn’t this council suggestion,” she said. “Companies that dump toxic waste into an environment are financially and legally responsible for cleaning it up. Why is (British Pacific Properties) not held to the same standard? »

The company, which bought 4,000 acres in the West Vancouver district in 1931, has begun identifying any properties it has developed and sold that contain such language, and will share that information with the LTSA, the chairman said Tuesday. Geoff Croll in an email. He is also looking at legal options to remove the offensive words if the province is unable to give the LTSA authority to remove them, he added.

“We absolutely have a role to play in ensuring that racist and discriminatory language is removed entirely from covenants on title deeds historically developed by society,” Croll’s email said. “It’s time for all of us to roll up our sleeves and work together to solve this problem.”

CUT TO PRINT FROM HERE TO BOTTOM:

On Monday, Tung’s petition was presented to the provincial legislature by Karin Kirkpatrick, the Liberal MLA for West Vancouver-Capilano.

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Tung stumbled upon this controversy when district staff asked her to get a copy of a ‘restrictive covenant’ from the LTSA, before she could approve a permit for a new home she and her husband are building. in British properties. She was extremely upset by the 1955 pact which stated that people of “African or Asian” descent could not reside on this land unless they were servants.

On Monday, Cameron said the city could do a better job of communicating with residents like Tung by sending a letter explaining that the council has condemned the clauses as “repugnant” and that they can have racist words crossed out by sending an email. -email the LTSA at [email protected]

Tung said Tuesday it was a helpful suggestion, but argued that other people could be trained to help report such discriminatory words, such as real estate agents, mortgage companies and banks.

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This matter was first brought to the Board in January 2020 by the Board. Marcus Wong, who found similar sectarian clauses when he withdrew the land titles from his own British Properties home. He asked district staff to determine what West Vancouver could do to resolve the issue and, although the response was delayed by the pandemic, he said Monday evening that he was satisfied with the solution to ask the LTSA to remove intolerant words.

“I think it’s also important that we keep one or two recordings in an archive somewhere so we can always look back and see what historical records were like so we don’t repeat the same mistakes,” Wong added. .

In addition to the Tony British Properties, such racist clauses have been found in other areas of the North Shore, including Caulfield, Gleneagles and Edgemont Village, Wong said. Councilors from New Westminster and Vancouver raised similar concerns.

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