Vancouver City Council voted on Wednesday to request the BC government to change its charter to allow permanent residents to vote in city elections.
The motion was tabled by Councillor Andrea Reimer, who was a co-chair of the Engaged City Task Force, a group that made recommendations in 2014 for the city to grant voting rights to permanent residents as a “powerful way of creating an inclusive, equitable, and caring community in Vancouver.”
Last year the City asked for staff to investigate the matter. It was “determined that the provincial government is the appropriate authority to undertake this work.”
Wednesday’s motion passed unanimously, and if the province chooses to adopt the changes, Vancouver would become the first Canadian city to allow non-citizens to vote in municipal elections.
#VanCityCouncil approves agenda item 15 – Permanent Resident Voting unanimously
— Vancouver City Clerk (@VanCityClerk) April 18, 2018
The motion defines a permanent resident as someone who has immigrated to Canada as a skilled worker, refugee, caregiver, sponsored family member, but is not a Canadian citizen.
In 2011 there were an estimated 60,000 permanent residents living in Vancouver. This is equivalent to 33% of total voter turnout in the 2014 municipal election.
While this would be a first for Canada, more than 45 countries have granted permanent residents some form of voting rights. This includes seven jurisdictions in the US and 25 European Union countries.