Council unanimous in researching possibility of women’s bureau for city hall

1288612The city will look into options for creating a women’s bureau and a special liaison for women’s issues at city hall.

Council on Wednesday unanimously voted to have the mayor and city staff come up with ideas to create the initiatives as part of the next governance report for the 2018-2022 term of council. The governance report traditionally sets the groundwork for various council operations for the four-year term.

The motion was from councillors Diane Deans and Catherine McKenney. Mayor Jim Watson amended the motion to ask the city clerk and solicitor to also review the recruitment and appointment practices for advisory committees, boards and agencies with the goal of having 50 per cent representation of women next term.

Deans said “this is by no means a battle of the sexes,” but she advocated for a greater focus on gender balance in the municipal government.

“This will not happen organically,” Deans said. “If we do nothing, nothing will change and that’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for me and it’s not good enough for our community.”

Councillors wore peach-coloured scarves from the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) during the council meeting in showing support for the motion. CAWI supporters in the gallery applauded after the vote.

Watson said including more women on advisory committees, boards and agencies will also give them experience at city hall.

Only four members out of 24 on city council are women. Of the nine city departments, three of the top managers are women.

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