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Too many 'whereas'? Port Coquitlam trims motion for UBCM gabfest

Port Coquitlam's original gender equity motion, according to the Union of BC Municipalities.

A Port Coquitlam motion about gender equity needed to be trimmed this month because the original resolution had too many “whereas” clauses.

Last week, city council amended Coun. Nancy McCurrach’s motion as the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which is expected to consider the recommendation at its September annual convention, did not want a motion with 10 “whereas” explanations.

Instead, PoCo politicians cut down the motion to three clauses.

“It was just a simple amendment that needed to happen,” McCurrach told the Tri-City News. “By making it shorter, I’m hopeful it will have a bigger impact and will be endorsed.”

Last year, convention delegates OK’d 161 resolutions out of more than 200 submitted by communities around B.C.

PoCo’s resolution calls for updating the provincial occupational health and safety regulations, and the BC Building Codes, to include provisions for menstrual supplies.

The tightened resolution, which PoCo council unanimously passed on April 9, reads in full:

“Whereas the 2024 British Columbia Building Code contains updated accessibility features for universal washrooms and that they must contain full-sized adult changing tables; and no new updates were made to the provincial Building Code and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations to include accessibility features for free menstrual supplies or sanitary disposal bins for those who menstruate;

“And whereas equity-based policies around access to menstrual products as a health and human rights imperative will support inclusion, accessibility, mobility, reduce stigma and promote gender equality for all people;

“And whereas in December 2023, the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations were revised to include free menstrual products in all federally regulated workplace restrooms;

“Therefore, be it resolved that the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) call upon the Province of British Columbia to update the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, and the British Columbia Building Code to include provisions for sanitary disposal bins and courtesy menstrual supplies as is currently required for toilet paper in restrooms outside the home, then supporting accessibility and gender equity for people who menstruate.”

McCurrach said updating the codes and regulations to include menstrual supplies will remove the need for each local government to individually pass motions.

It’s not the first time PoCo city council has put forward a resolution about access to free menstrual products. In 2020, its move for free supplies in civic facilities was referred to the UBCM executive.

In February 2019, the New Westminster board of education became the first school district in Canada to adopt a policy to have free menstrual wares in school washrooms.