Kari Gares has served noticed she wants her hometown to come up with a diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) strategy.
The City of Vernon councillor put forward a notice of motion at the Dec. 15, 2022 regular meeting of council, calling for Vernon to produce a framework for an established DEI strategy that addresses key issues such as definition of terms, implementation and policy review, and recommendations on how the strategy and subsequent policy would achieve measurable outcomes.
Council is expected to discuss Gares’ motion at its regular meeting Monday, Jan. 9.
“Currently, the City of Vernon does not have a DEI policy,” said Gares. “This does not mean that we are not focused on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity; but by creating such a policy, we are ensuring a level of commitment to our core strategies so that consistency in the development of policies is seen through each specific “lens.”
In bringing forward the motion, Gares pondered if the city could be better equipment to deliver on much-needed policies that are “consistent and strategic with a pre-determined outcome that can be both quantitative and qualitative.”
She pointed to council’s recent delivery of a much-needed housing strategy, but has assumed that the needs of every community member are similar to the other – that housing is a fundamental right and that we have a core duty in ensuring housing accessibility for all.
“And the reality is that our needs may be similar on the surface but are, in fact, distinctly different depending on differing variables,” said Gares. “Women, who are fleeing domestic abuse, require vastly different housing needs than those who are not faced with the same realities.”
By developing a DEI policy, Gares said the city can look at its strategies and anticipated outcomes to deliver a framework that is more targeted to the needs of the individual, which would then deliver much-needed focused housing that goes beyond the general aspect of housing for all.
“In this case, we have only addressed the types of housing gaps but have not address the housing gaps as it relates to, for example, women; women with children; Indigenous peoples; and men with children,”said Gares. “Currently, we have placed focus on delivering short-term shelters, supportive housing, affordable and accessible housing options but we have a known gap in transitional housing for women.
“Placing women and children in a co-ed shelter is not appropriate and requires a very different approach. Hence the importance of establishing a DEI policy so that we understand, recognize and adjust our mindset to reflect the immediate and long-term needs of this group.”