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People and organizations

Vancouver (B.C.). City Analyst's Laboratory

  • Corporate body

The Office of the City Analyst was first established in the Health Department in 1892. With few exceptions, the responsibilities and functions of the City Analyst's Lab have remained constant since the establishment of the office. Changes that have occurred include having responsibility for Food Inspectors from 1924 to 1949, and absorbing the functions of the City's Chemical Engineering Laboratory in 1951. The office of the City Analyst has continued to provide consultation, physical and chemical analytical services to the City of Vancouver departments, and to outside agencies. The civic departments which use the services provided by the City Analyst include the Health Department for the testing of food, water, beverages, and environmental contaminants; the Engineering Department for corrosion-related studies of potable water and soil; Permits and Licenses for analyses of waste water effluents; and the Police Department for assistance in homicide, sexual assault, arson, and impaired driving investigations. The Housing and Properties Department, the Fire Department and the Board of Parks and Recreation are occasional users of the City Analyst's services. The laboratory also provides assistance to outside agencies including the office of the Chief Coroner of British Columbia which retains toxicological services on a yearly contract, surrounding municipalities, and crown and defense attorneys.

Vancouver (B.C.). City Planning Commission

  • Corporate body

The Vancouver City Planning Commission was established, in name, on 18 Jan. 1972 (by-law no. 4599), but its functions as an advisory body to City Council on city-wide planning issues were formalized on 16 June 1960 (by-law no. 3850).

Before the establishment of the Planning Department on 1 Nov. 1952, the Vancouver Town Planning Commission had carried out wide-ranging and influential functions, as well as specfic technical approval work. In 1953 the Commission's previous first level zoning adjudication function was taken over by a committee of City staff, called the Technical Planning Board (in existence 1953-1972). While, according to procedure, City Council still approved many anomalies, and further appeal was possible to the Zoning By-law Appeal Board, the Planning Department and the Technical Planning Board did all the preliminary work. Meanwhile the Planning Department expanded, and as it did so, the Commission's function became increasingly advisory.

During its first phase the Vancouver Town Planning Commission reported to the City Council Special Committee on Building and Town Planning Matters (known by various names over the years); as of 1956 it reported directly to City Council.

Vancouver (B.C.). Civic Museums and Planetarium Board

  • Corporate body

The origins of the Greater Vancouver Civic Museum and Planetarium Board may be traced back to 1959 when Council created a seven-member Board to oversee operations of the new Maritime Museum. An agreement in December 1959 transferred to the Museum Board jurisdiction over the City Museum, which had formerly been operated by the Board of Trustees of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association. The Association received representation on the Museum Board and became the official membership organization for City-owned museums. The Museum Board integrated the Vancouver and Maritime Museums into a two-unit museum system run as a City department under a Director of Museums (subsequently Manager of Museums). The Civic Museums Board was officially established by by-law no. 3960 in 1961. In 1969, the by-law was amended, changing the name of the Board to the Greater Vancouver Civic Museums and Planetarium Board to accommodate the newly built planetarium. The functions of the Board were as follows: to manage, order, arrange and dispose of displays, exhibits and collections of museum objects in order to benefit the citizens of Vancouver. It was to report to Council, submitting annual plans and annual reports. Its advisory functions were to concern public outreach, museum operation, museum fees, budget evaluation, and related matters generated by Council or by the Board. In 1972, by-law no. 3960 was repealed; on April 1, 1973, the responsibility for the Vancouver Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Planetarium was placed by Council with the Vancouver Museums and Planetarium Association.

Vancouver (B.C.). Civic Theatres Board

  • Corporate body

The Vancouver Civic Theatres Board was known by a series of names: Civic Auditorium Board of Management, 1956-1960; Vancouver Civic Auditorium Commission, 1960-1961; Vancouver Civic Auditorium Board, 1961-1976; and Vancouver Civic Theatres Board, 1976-present.

The body was established in 1956 under by-law 3596 to administer, manage, and operate the new civic auditorium (the Queen Elizabeth Theatre). The Board was also expected to hire and oversee a theatre manager. The Board consisted of five members, including one alderman, then increased to six members under by-law 3601. Board members selected the Chair. In 1961, serious problems with the management of the theatre (the theatre manager hired by the Board was dismissed for financial irregularities and eventually convicted of fraud) resulted in the passage of by-law 3941. This by-law repealed by-law no. 3596 and took away the Board's financial powers (e.g., the power to make parking arrangements, collect monies, authorize expenditures, keep books and appoint a manager), thus creating a purely advisory board. In 1961 the operation of the civic theatres gained the position of a civic department (for more information about the activities of the Civic Theatres Department, see Civic Theatres Department authority record).

Since the passage of by-law 3941, the jurisdiction and function of the Civic Theatres Board has been to advise Council generally on the operation of the civic theatres (the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, the Queen Elizabeth Playhouse, the Orpheum) and all matters related to their use and improvement, in particular: the forms of entertainment and types of organizations which should be specially encouraged to use the theatres; the advantages to be derived from adopting policies or methods of operating theatres which are in practice elsewhere; the integration of other facilities and concessions in the operation of the theatres; the annual budget of the Vancouver Civic Theatres as prepared by the manager (now Civic Theatres Director) and submitted to Council in the same manner as departmental budgets; the schedule of rates and rentals which are to be charged for the theatres' facilities as prepared by the manager (now Civic Theatres Director) and submitted to Council in accordance with normal civic procedure; such other matters as may from time to time be referred to the Board by Council for advice and recommendation; to bring to the attention of Council any matters relating to the theatres which, in the opinion of the Board, merit action on the part of Council.

By-law 5035 changes the name to the Vancouver Civic Theatres Board, and constituted the Board to have seven members, including one liaison Councillor appointed annually by Council.

Vancouver (B.C.). Computer Services Division

  • Corporate body

The Computer Services Division was established as a division within the Finance Department in 1966. Prior to that it was known as the Data Processing and Systems Division. The division is responsible for the centralized data processing and computer services function, including the management of word processing equipment, oversight of the use of personal computers, and, in conjunction with the Personnel Department, computer training.

Known as:

  • Data Processing and Systems Division, 1957-1966
  • Computer Services Division, 1966-?

Predecessor to:
Information Technology Department, ?-present

Vancouver (B.C.). Court of Revision

  • Corporate body

The Court of Revision had/has the authority to revise the voters' list, the real property assessment roll, the business tax roll, and local improvement proposals, as determined by provincial statutes. The Court's final sitting to revise the voters' list took place in 1990, to revise the real property tax roll in 1975 (after which the B.C. Assessment Authority took over property tax assessment), and to revise the business tax roll in 1984 (the Business Tax By-law was in effect 1970-1984 only). As of 1995 the Court still sits to review local improvements proposals. Records are created by the Court of Revision, and filed by the Assessment Commissioner's Office (1950-1956 Real property tax roll files) and the Office of the City Clerk (1956 to present).

Vancouver (B.C.). Electoral Reform Commission

  • Corporate body

In September 2003, City of Vancouver established Vancouver Electoral Reform Commission (VERC) making recommendations on changes to the City?s Electoral system, including a possible change from an at-large system to wards. Thomas Berger, a former Supreme Court judge and head of several federal inquiries, was chosen to be the Commissioner. The first public debates were amongst academics about the different electoral models and merits and drawbacks. The second public forum involved three previous mayors to discuss which model they support and reasons for their conclusions. During the first six months of 2004, the commission held a total of 17 public forums in neighbourhoods all around Vancouver to hear from citizens about their views. The commission also provided a questionnaire asking for public opinion on the issue, which was available in print and online. It also received many other written submissions as well. Based on the feedback and discussions, Berger recommended in his report to Council on June 8, 2004 that the City should let citizens have a say and hold an October 16, 2004 vote on whether we should change from the at-large system to a ward system and increase the number of Councillors to 14 from 10. However, this recommendation was defeated in a referendum held on October 16, 2004.

Electoral reform is a perennial issue in the City of Vancouver. The debate on whether to elect a city council through a city-wide or ward system has bloomed nine times in the city's history - six times in the last 30 years alone. The issue is being addressed again, as Vancouver Electoral Reform Commissioner Thomas Berger evaluates the merits of each system, or a combination of both. After holding a series of forums and receiving public feedback on the issue, Berger will submit a report to City Council in May 2004 that will make recommendations on the City's electoral system. Since it became a city in 1886, Vancouver has used both at-large and ward systems. The first civic election in 1886 was an at-large vote. The City Council promptly split Vancouver into five wards. As the city grew, so did the number of wards.By the 1930s, the city had gone from wards to proportional representation, then back again to wards. In 1935, Vancouver moved to an at-large system, which is still in place today.
Since then, there have been several votes in Vancouver on the issue:

  • 1973: 59 per cent of voters chose to keep the at-large system.
  • 1978: 52 per cent voted in favour of reinstating a ward system. However, the provincial government's amendments to the Vancouver Charter, the legislation that governs the city, specified that Vancouver's electoral system could only be changed with a 60 per cent majority vote in a referendum.
  • 1988: 56 per cent majority in favour of wards, which was not enough to meet the 60 per cent required.
  • 1996: 59 per cent voted in favour of keeping the at-large system.
  • 2004: 54 per voted opposed to adopting a ward system.

Vancouver (B.C.). Corporate Services

  • Corporate body

The Finance Department was established by City Council on July 27, 1957 when it passed the recommendation of the newly formed Board of Administration (1956) that the following units would become part of a new Finance Department headed by the City Comptroller: City Comptroller's Office, Accounting, Addressograph and Multilith, Assessment, Internal Audit, License and Business Tax, Motor Vehicle Inspection, Personnel and Payroll, Property and Insurance [referred to as the Properties Division], Purchasing and Supply, Revenue Collection, Tabulating, and Treasurer (159-E-6 reel 1 file 1). Over the years the Finance Department and its decentralized predecessors (under the authority of the Finance Committee from 1887) have carried out an array of financial and non-financial functions, with competences fluctuating on a regular basis. The functions were/are: accounting, assessment, auditing, budgets, city owned property management, comptrolling, data processing/computer services, economic development, financial analysis, license inspection, motor vehicle inspection, personnel, purchasing, tax and fee collection, and risk and emergency management. Responsible bodies evolved as follows:
(1) Accounting. Carried out by the Treasurer from 1886, also by City Accountant from 1887 (payroll by Paymaster from 1910-1957, then by Personnel Division 1957-1965, then by Payroll officer in Accounting Division). The function of accounting entailed keeping detailed financial accounts on all moneys including investments, and preparing financial statements. Accounting Division established 1966.
(2) Assessment. Real property tax assessment was carried out by the Assessment Commissioner 1886-1975, when the function was transferred to the B.C. Assessment Authority.
(3) Auditing. Carried out by City Auditor 1886-1964, then by Internal Audit Division and "Internal Auditor" 1964-1996, when the Division was discontinued.
(4) Budgets. Budget preparation and administration originally under Accounting, joined with Research to form the Budgets and Research Department 1974-1976, then became a division in Finance. In more recent years involves reviewing operating and capital budgets of City's departments, and participating in budget review process.
(5) City owned property management. From incorporation the Assessment Commissioner was responsible for this function; in 1912 the Land Purchasing and Claims Department took it over. Names fluctuated: Land Sales Department (1932-1936), Lands and Rentals Department (1936-1956). By 1950 the variety of subfunctions included: land sales, rentals, building repairs, land subdivision, insurance, land purchasing, industrial development, lot clearing, and housing (mostly wartime housing). By 1957 the Lands and Rentals Department became the Properties and Insurance Division of the expanded and new Finance Department, with the City Comptroller as head. In 1978 it became the Properties Division of the Civic Buildings Department, and in early 1990 the Real Estate and Housing Division of the newly created Housing and Properties Department. In 1995 the various subfunctions were divided and placed under Corporate Services.
(6) Comptrolling. This function involves the general control and supervision of the City's financial affairs. The Treasurer, chief financial officer 1886-1912, initially administered the function. In 1912 the Comptroller, who had previously been responsible for the accounting function, replaced the Treasurer as department head (by-law no. 943). In the 1921 Vancouver Charter the Comptroller's powers were increased to include responsibility for investments and City properties. The 1953 Vancouver Charter named the Comptroller the City's Chief Financial Officer and became Council's advisor on financial matters. The position title changed to Director of Finance in 1965.
(7) Data Processing and Computer Services. Originally performed by the Tabulating Office established about 1948, the Finance Department became responsible with the Data Processing and Computer Services Division in 1966. From the beginning the function served many or all City units. Established as a separate unit parallel to Financial Services in 1995, and named Information Services. Renamed Information Technology in 1996.
(8) Economic Development. An Industrial Commissioner was first appointed by the Market and Industries Committee in 1914 (to approx. 1919) to plan for increased manufacturing activity, assist with industrial site arrangements, and to encourage business activity in Vancouver. The position was reestablished 1947-1959. In 1978 an Economic Development Office/Division was created to assist business and industry in its dealings with the City, to encourage retention and acquisition of business in Vancouver, to act as secretariat for the Vancouver Economic Advisory Commission, to manage the City's trade missions, and to advise the Director of Finance on zoning and development processes.
(9) Financial Analysis. Probably carried out by accounting in early years. The function was formalized as "research" in 1974 with the creation of the Budgets and Research Department (which became a division in Finance in 1976).
(10) License Inspection. Function originally assumed by Finance Committee in 1910 (taken over from Office of the Fire Warden and License Inspector). During the earlier period there was inspection of lodging and rooming houses (1914-1931), of trades licenses (1910-1937), and responsibility for the Fair Weight Officer (1929-1937). In 1937 the Standing Committee on Properties, Licenses and Claims took over licensing. In 1955 it was returned to the Finance Committee, under the License Division, until 1969, when the Permits and Licenses Department was established.
(11) Motor Vehicle Inspection. Administered briefly by Finance in 1967. Later carried out by Province.
(12) Personnel. This function previously with the Personnel Department of the Board of Administration until 1957, when City Comptroller's Department took over, by administering personnel services and payroll. Payroll remained with Finance while personnel went to the newly established Personnel Department in 1965.
(13) Purchasing. Assumed from the City Clerk in 1900 and retained since. Called Storekeeper (1900-1925) and Purchasing Office (1925-1966). The Purchasing Agent also managed the Central Stores operation at Manitoba Yards, and the Printshop in City Hall. The Fair Wages Officer was also attached to this Division.
(14) Real Estate Management. Administered by the Assessment Commissioner 1886-1912, by the City Comptroller 1912-1935, by the Land Sales and Rentals Office 1935-1956, by the Properties Division of the Finance Department 1956-1978, by the Properties Division of the Civic Buildings Department 1978-1989, and by the newly created Housing and Properties Department 1990-1995.
(15) Risk and Emergency Management. A Risk Management Program was established in 1987 to administer the City's new self-insurance program for liability claims. In 1992 the Office of Emergency Management, formerly a separate department, was joined with Risk Management to form the Risk and Emergency Management Division.
Predecessors of Corporate Services are: Financial Services, 1995-1998; Finance Department, 1957-1995 (which was also competent for the non-financial units of Computer Services, the Economic Development Division, and up to 1987, the Properties Division); and the various units functioning in the earlier decentralized years, which included the Office of the City Comptroller, Accounting, Addressograph and Multilith, Assessment, Internal Audit, License and Business Tax, Personnel and Payroll, Purchasing and Supply, Revenue Collection, Tabulating, and Treasurer (Council minutes, 27 June 1957).
(16) Tax and Fee Collection. Administered by the Tax Collection Department 1886-1966 (senior positions called at various times Collector of Taxes, Poll Tax Collector, Revenue Tax Collector, Special Collections Branch), when Finance's Revenue and Treasury Division took over the function (with the creation of the Property Tax Branch). Over the years additional fees have been collected for water service and garbage collection ("scavenging"), with further revenue coming from investments, by-law fines, tax delinquent property sales, and a variety of permits (building, dog licensing, etc.).
From 1886-1957 all financial officials, including the Assessment Commissioner, City Treasurer, City Comptroller, City Accountant, City Auditor, and the Land Sales and Rentals Supervisor, reported to City Council's standing committees, of which there were numerous configurations, the most stable the Finance Committee, which had been granted responsibility for financial decisions in 1887 with by-law no. 32. In 1956, with the establishment of the Board of Administration, all predecessor units reported to the Board, while in 1957 many of those units reported to the City Comptroller as part of the Finance Department, and he, in turn, reported to the Board. In 1974 the Office of the City Manager replaced the Board of Administration. As of 1995 the Director of Financial Services has been reporting to the General Manager of Corporate Services, who, in turn, reports to the City Manager.
The internal organization of the evolving organizational units has varied considerably. As an example, 1993 divisions (some of which contained numerous and large branches) were: Accounting Division, Internal Audit Division, External Audit Division, Budgets and Research Division, Computer Services Division, Economic Development Office, Purchasing Division, Revenue and Treasury Division, and the Risk and Emergency Management Division.
Name changes have been associated with changes in internal structure. In a general sense, however, what is now Corporate Services was previously Financial Services (1995-1998), the Finance Department (1957-1995), and before that the City Comptroller's Department (1945-1957). Before 1945, functional units were called: Office of the Assessment Commissioner (from 1886), Office of the City Accountant (from 1886), Office of the City Comptroller (from 1912), Office of the City Treasurer (from 1886), among others.
Chief officers since 1957 have included, as City Comptroller (the head of the Finance Department): W. G. Taylor, 1957-1964. The position was subsequently called Director of Finance: W. G. Taylor, 1964-1966; A. H. Parkinson, 1967-1972; P. D. Leckie, 1972-1987; Don Forss, 1988- 1989; Ken Stoke, 1990-1995; Hugh Creighton, 1995-1998. In 1998 the scope of the position was enlarged and its title changed to General Manager of Corporate Services: Estelle Lo, 1998- .

[Records series created by Corporate Services include records created by financial units of the City from 1886, and records of non-financial units which were linked to the City Comptroller's Department or the Finance Department. Included are records of the offices of the Assessment Commissioner, the City Accountant, the City Comptroller, the City Treasurer, the Economic Development Office, the False Creek Development Group, and the many additional divisions of the Finance Department.]

Vancouver (B.C.). Economic Advisory Commission

  • Corporate body

The Commission, initially called the Business Advisory Board, was appointed by Council during the 1 Aug. 1978 in-camera meeting. Comprised of prominent business people, with the Economic Development Office serving as the secretariat, the Commission established subcommittees and task forces to plan for Vancouver's economic development. The Commission was also active in promoting trade missions to Asia including the Asia Pacific Initiative in the 1990s.

Vancouver (B.C.). Director of Finance

  • Corporate body

The Director of Finance, formerly known as Comptroller, is responsible for the control and supervision of all the financial affairs of the City. This function includes the supervision of the operating divisions, management of the City's short-term investments, and control of the City's debt. Between 1886-1912, the Treasurer was the chief financial officer of the City and thus handled these responsibilities. In 1912, the Comptroller, who had previously controlled the accounting function, replaced the Treasurer as the head of the Finance Department. In addition to the Comptroller's accounting duties, he was also made custodian of all titles, bonds and securities and was placed in charge of the renting and leasing of all properties. These increased powers were incorporated into the City Charter in 1921, with the Comptroller's main function defined as the general control over the collection of City revenue and all other fiscal matters. In 1953, the authority of the Comptroller was further increased as he was named the Chief Financial Officer of the City and was responsible for all the financial affairs of the City and was to act as Council's advisor on all financial matters. In 1965, the title of Comptroller was replaced with the title Director of Finance. The Director currently controls all the financial functions of the City, subject to the authority of the City Manager and Council and acts as their main advisor on all financial matters.

Vancouver (B.C.). Economic Development Office

  • Corporate body

Council established the Industrial Development Office on October 25, 1977 to advise Council on economic matters and to act as industry liaison to promote economic growth. It was soon renamed the Economic Development Office. A manager was appointed in April 1978, at which time the Office also became the secretariat of the Vancouver Economic Advisory Commission.

The July 1978 goals of the Economic Development Office were: to assist City Council and departments with economic development matters; to assist the business community and attract new business; and to encourage governments, companies, and agencies to optimize Vancouver's economic assets.

Primary activities 1978-1995 included advisory and organizational services to City Council and others for the numerous economic missions of the 1980s (including sister city relations with Yokohama, Los Angeles, and Guangzhou, in particular), assisting with reciprocal delegations touring Vancouver, providing Vancouver economic information dissemination to interested local, national, and international parties (including prospective immigrants from Hong Kong during the 1980s), and providing economic development expertise to local organizations as well as businesses. In April 1994 the Economic Development Office became one of the City's programs to face elimination as part of the "budget management program". The Office subsequently closed on October 31, 1995.

Vancouver (B.C.). Environmental Health Division

  • Corporate body

The Environmental Health Division is responsible for pest and noise control, food management, housing and lodging house inspection, and water and air pollution monitoring.

Vancouver (B.C.). Equal Employment Opportunity Office

  • Corporate body

On July 12, 1975, Council resolved to strike a special committee to design and oversee an Equal Employment Opportunity Program (EEO) to encourage the recruitment of women, racial minorities and the physically handicapped. In May of 1977, the EEO Committee presented a report recommending the creation of a salaried, full-time EEO Officer. In September of that year an Officer was appointed, reporting to the City Manager; however, in February 1979 Council rescinded the appointment and delegated responsibility to carry out the principles of the program to the City Manager. On July 12, 1982, a Coordinator was hired for a ten-month period to make recommendations on reinstituting and implementing an EEO Program within the Office of City Manager. The result was a series of Departmental Action Plans on Equal Employment Opportunity which were approved by Council beginning in January, 1984. In 1986 Council reaffirmed and expanded the EEO program's mandate to include the establishment of career counselling programs, and the following year the EEO Office's Kingswood Management Training Program for senior managers was introduced. This was followed in 1989 by the establishment of the Hastings Institute, a program designed to respond to requests for training on employment equity and multiculturalism throughout the province. In 1996 the Office began publishing its EEO Newsletter, which shared information about the program with City employees and community agencies.
On October 8th, 1991, City Council approved the creation of a Safer City Task Force. The major mandate of the Task Force was to recommend actions and strategies that Council may undertake to make Vancouver a safer place to live. The Task Force identified 3 areas of concerns. They were urban design, campus violence and domestic violence. In order to get inputs from the public, the Task Force conducted public meetings and community forums. The Safer City Task Force in its final report to Council in June of 1993 outlined several recommendations for City departments to implement to make Vancouver safe.

Vancouver (B.C.). False Creek Development Group

  • Corporate body

In October 1973, a False Creek Development Consultant, E.D. Sutcliffe, was appointed with instructions from Council to "prepare detailed procedural plans for the physical, social and economic development for the first stage [of City lands in Area 6 of south False Creek] for report back to Council" (City Council minutes, November 20, 1973). In January 1974 the False Creek Development Group was established, headed by Project Manager Sutcliffe, who reported directly to Vancouver City Council. Its responsibility was to analyze, advise, and recommend to City Council on all proposed developments of City-owned lands in False Creek (housing cooperative, non-profit, and private, including strata and commercial). The FCDG served as general coordinator, liaison among parties, and support to all parties, to guide the development of the lands according to City policy. The Group disbanded upon essential completion of the many projects in 1986 (October 26, 1995 conversation with Cameron Gray, last Project Manager of the False Creek Development Group).

Vancouver (B.C.). Fire and Rescue Services

  • Corporate body

The volunteer City Brigade was established by City Council (by-law no. 6) on July 19, 1886, further to the provincial Vancouver Incorporation Act of April 6, 1886, which authorized City Council to pass by-laws for the suppression and prevention of fires. The by-law stipulated that the fire brigade would be subject to the authority of City Council's Fire, Water and Light Committee (established May 10, 1886) and that the Fire Chief would be elected annually from among the members of the brigade. Organization of the Volunteer Fire Brigade began in May 1886. (The date of the "great fire" was June 13, 1886.) Over the years the responsibility for the provision of fire suppression services devolved from the provincial Vancouver Incorporation Act and the Fire Marshalls Act (1921-1978), subsequently the Fire Services Act (1978- ). Numerous City by-laws have defined further specifics. For an 1886-1984 Vancouver Fire Department chronology see the inventory in the Reading Room. The following functions have remained quite constant over the years, despite several reorganizations.
(1) Fire fighter training. Carried out from 1886 beginnings, training became more formalized from 1889, when the Fire Department was established. From then until the 1950s Fire Captains of each fire hall provided training and after 3-6 month probationary periods recommended firemen for permanent status as they saw fit. In 1952 a Training Officers Branch was established. From 1971 it has been called the Training Division.
(2) Fire investigation. This function relates to investigation into the causes, origins, and circumstances of fires, and extends to prosecution of cases of arson and false alarms. Carried out by the Fire Chief from 1886 to about 1945, then by the Fire Wardens Branch, and finally, as of 1961, by the Fire Prevention Branch/Division.
(3) Fire prevention and inspection. The provincial government had authorized City Council to be responsible for these functions from the Vancouver Incorporation Act of 1886. From 1892-1906 (Fire By-law no. 162) the Building Inspector was assigned competence for this function, then in 1906, responsibility went to the Fire Department, i.e., to the Fire Wardens (By-laws no. 923, 946, 2193). In 1961 the Fire Wardens Branch became the Fire Prevention Division, which was responsible for enforcing the fire safety standards of the Fire By-law and the Building By-law. Related to the fire prevention and inspection function is dangerous goods regulation, which has been the responsibility of the Fire Chief since 1922 (by-law no. 1517, also 5572).
(4) Fire suppression. This emergency function has, of course, always been the primary function. From its 1886 beginnings as the Volunteer Fire Brigade, through its 1889 formation as a paid force, and up to 1906, competence for fire suppression was vested in the Department, as directly controlled by the Fire Chief, with overall administrative competence City Council's Fire Committee. Fire halls were established as of late summer 1886, the first steam fire engine was working by 1886, and fire boats were kept from the 1930s to the early 1990s. The responsible unit was the Fire Suppression Division from ca. 1975 and the Operations Division from 1994.
(5) Inhalator and rescue services. The inhalator service began in 1930 as the responsibility of several firehalls. In 1942 this function was centralized with the newly created No. 1 First Aid Company of the No. 3 Firehall. The service included emergency response and first aid treatment for drug overdoses, poisonings, heartattacks, accident injuries, burns, smoke inhalation, etc. In 1951 the Rescue and Safety Branch/Division took over the function. More recently rescue services expanded to include underwater search, rescue, and investigation.
(6) Public education on fire hazards and safety. During the early years the function was not formalized, but a logical adjunct to the mandated functions of fire prevention and suppression. During the 1950s the Department engaged in programs with the Vancouver School Board, community centres, the Greater Vancouver Fire Protection Association, the Vancouver Traffic and Safety Council, etc. In 1961 competence for the function was officially taken over by the Fire Protection Branch/Division. As of the 1994 reorganization this has been carried out by the Communications Division.
The predecessor body was the Volunteer Fire Brigade, established by City Council in 1886, which formed the basis for the Fire Department which was established in 1889. Although the name was changed from Fire Department to Fire and Rescue Services in 1994, the latter is a renaming, not a successor body.
The first authority of the Volunteer City Brigade was City Council's Fire, Water and Light Committee (set up in May 1886, before the Brigade was formally organized). Aldermanic committees continued to oversee the Fire Department until July 1956, when the Board of Administration became the management body of the City. The Board evolved into the City Manager in 1974, to which Fire and Rescue Services continues to report.
The internal organization developed as follows. Until the establishment of the Fire Department in 1889, the Volunteer City Brigade elected a Fire Chief from among its members and had an administrative position from August 1886 when a Fire Engineer was appointed. With the establishment of the Fire Department there were 23 staff, including the Fire Chief, engineers, stokers, drivers, and fire fighters; currently the Fire and Rescue Services department has a staff of over 800. Fairly longtime divisional units are described here, along with the 1994 realignments and renamings: the 1994 Operations Division had formerly been called the Fire Suppression Division; the new Support Services Division now encompassed the former Mechanical Maintenance Division and Building Maintenance Division (and added recruitment); the Emergency Medical Services Division became the new term for the former Rescue and Safety Division; a new Communications Division was established (which included a computer services branch); the Finance and Administration Division became the new term for the longtime Administration Division; and the divisions which did not change were the Fire Prevention Division, the Training Division, and the Planning and Research Division.

Name variations have evolved as follows:

  • Volunteer Fire Brigade (1886-1889);
  • Fire Department (1889-1994);
  • Fire and Rescue Services (1994-present).

    The Fire Chief has remained the head of the broadly defined fire suppression function from August 1886 to the present, although as of the major City reorganization of 1994 the position is called General Manager of Fire and Rescue Services and Fire Chief. The following individuals have served as Fire Chief: Samuel Pedgrift, 1886; J. Blair, 1886; John Howe Carlisle, 1886-1888; Wilson McKinnon, 1888-1889; John Howe Carlisle, 1889-1928; C. W. Thompson, 1929-1935; A. McDiarmid, 1935-1941; J. H. DeGraves, 1941-1945; E. L. Erratt, 1945-1947; A. E. Condon, 1947-1949; A. R. Murray, 1950-1952; H. S. Bird, 1952-1962; R. R. Jacks, 1962-1969; Armand Konig, 1969-1980; N. Harcus, 1980-1986; D. J. Pamplin, 1986-1993; Glen Maddess, 1993-1998; Ray Holdgate, 1998- .

Related Resources:
Minutes of the aldermanic committees which oversaw the Fire Department are in series 33 ("Standing committee minutes"), part of the City Council and Office of the City Clerk fonds.

Vancouver (B.C.). Governmental Review Commission

  • Corporate body

The Governmental Review Commission was appointed by City Council on 23 Apr. 1979 to:

  • consider the merits of the "at-large" electoral system as well as some form of a ward system for Vancouver, and the implications that may be involved, including consideration of the plebiscite results in 1973 and 1978;
  • if a ward system was recommended, to consider the elements of a ward system (number of wards, ward boundaries, etc.); and
  • to make recommendations on the foregoing, as well as on the size of Council, the length of the term of office of Council members and frequency of elections, as well as qualifications for candidacy, and role and powers of the Mayor and Council.

The Commission was formed as a result of the 15 Nov. 1978 election when 51.7 percent of voters voted for the ward system. The members of the Commission were: Judge L. S. Eckardt (chairman), Dr. Robert M. Clark (Vice Chairman), Dr. Roy D. Bell, Mr. Alan F. Campney, and Dr. Edward McWhinney (QC).

The Commission held public meetings throughout Vancouver to receive the opinion of the citizens of Vancouver on the subject of electoral systems, governmental reform, and the general shape of City government into the 1980s and beyond.

The Commission issued its final report in Nov. 1979 (15-G-6 file 8) which put foward 26 recommendations (pages 40-42), including that a ward system be implemented for election to Council, the Park Board, and the School Board.

Vancouver (B.C.). Health Continuing Care Division

  • Corporate body

In 1960, the Junior League of Vancouver, recognizing the needs of older persons isolated from the community in nursing homes and rest homes, initiated a diversional, recreational program. In 1965, responsibility for the project was taken over by the Volunteer Bureau of Greater Vancouver and the program became known as "Volunteers for Seniors". In 1971, the City of Vancouver Health Department took over its administration.

In 1984, three existing programs - Long Term Care, Home Care, and Volunteers for Seniors - were unified under the new program title, "The Vancouver Continuing Care Program".

In 1985, the program was amalgamated with the Vancouver Hospice Program, which was part of the Provincial Ministry Continuing Care Division and administered by the City's Health Department, provided and/or arranged for treatment and support services for individuals who were unable to function independently due to health-related problems that did not warrant treatment in an acute care or rehabilitation centre. The primary aim of the program was to allow people to remain in their own homes, and among their families, as long as possible. The program was subsequently renamed as the Continuing Care Division.

Vancouver (B.C.). Health Department

  • Corporate body

The Health Department was formally legislated into existence in 1953 by provincial statute (Act to Supercede and Replace the Vancouver Incorporation Act, 1921). It has, however, existed de facto since the time of incorporation of the City of Vancouver in 1886. At that time, a Health Committee of City Council was established. From the earliest years, the Committee was known and referred to as both the Board of Health and the Health Department. The Health Department, as an administrative unit of city government and formally headed by a Medical Health Officer, has been recognized since 1904. Its mandate has been established through a combination of city by-laws and provincial statutes. In 1886, under the provisions of the original Vancouver Incorporation Act, City Council was empowered to pass by-laws and establish a civic department for the maintenance of civic health. The first civic health by-law (By-law no. 7), passed in 1887 and subsequent by-laws and amendments have established the authority to eliminate unhealthy or dangerous environmental health conditions, to provide health treatment (both clinical and preventive) and public health education, and to provide a varied range of social services to the community. Various provincial statutes, most notably the Health Act, have delegated powers of enforcement of increasingly detailed provincial environmental health and health care regulations to the Health Department. The Department has also been responsible for enforcement of federal government regulations relating to food purity and environmental control. Over the years, the Department has been given responsibility for twelve functions: environmental health inspection and control; communicable disease control; medical (clinical and preventive) services; public health nursing; mental health services; dental services; continuing care services; relief work; occupational health services; continuing care facilities licensing; bacteriological and chemical analysis and; cemetery and morgue administration. By 1995 the Health Department was organized into the following divisions: City Analyst Lab, Central Office, Continuing Care, Environmental Health, Mountain View Cemetery, Occupational Health, Health Units. Since January 1, 1996, responsibility for health has been vested in the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board. For a more detailed history, please consult the inventory of the Health Department fonds.

Vancouver (B.C.). Heritage Advisory Committee

  • Corporate body

The Vancouver Heritage Advisory Committee was established initially as the Vancouver Heritage Advisory Board in October 1973 by the passage of by-law no. 4729. In September 1974, the by-law was repealed and replaced with by-law no. 4800 with established the Vancouver Heritage Advisory Committee.

The Committee consists of 11 members, all of whom are appointed by Council. Since its establishment, the structure and functions of the Committee have remained relatively stable. The functions of the Committee are to advise Council on the following matters:

  • the need for preserving heritage buildings, structures and lands, which collectively represent a cross-section of all periods and styles in the City's historic and cultural evolution;
  • the costs and benefits of preservation; the compatibility of preservations with other lawful uses of the buildings, structures or lands; and (in particular),
  • recommendations to Council respecting the designation of heritage buildings, structures and lands and the demolition, preservation, alteration or renovation of those buildings, structures and lands.

Vancouver (B.C.). Healthiest Babies Possible program

  • Corporate body

The "Healthiest Babies Possible" program started up in 1976 under a Local Initiatives Program grant. Its mandate was to minimize the risks of poor birth outcome by offering nutrition and lifestyle counselling to a specific group of women who were at risk and not using other services, and whose circumstances were such that the services needed to be offered on an outreach basis.

Vancouver (B.C.). Human Resource Services

  • Corporate body

City Council appointed the City's first personnel director on September 29, 1947, then authorized eight additional positions for the personnel office on December 8, 1947. At that time the mandate of the new department was to set standards for entrance into the civil service, to develop a job classification program, to conduct employee training, and to maintain attendance records. Personnel and personnel related units have carried out the following functions over time: benefits policy and administration; equal employment opportunity; labour relations; occupational safety; personnel policy development; position classification and pay determination; and staff development and training. Competences for these functions have fluctuated considerably as outlined below.
(1) Benefits policy and administration. Benefits policy development dating from the early 1960s was carried out by the Director of Personnel, with City Council as the decision maker on defined broad aspects. Since the early 1980s the Compensation and Benefits Division has been responsible for research and benefits administration.
(2) Equal employment opportunity. The Director of Personnel was involved in the early discussions on establishing an equal employment opportunity office before 1975, when Council established its special committee, the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee. The program resided within the Personnel Services Department until 1987, when it moved to the City Manager's Office.
(3) Labour relations. Council was the labour relations decision maker from the beginning and continues to be. The Personnel Director became responsible for labour relations analysis and communications by the early 1960s.
(4) Occupational safety. Employee accident prevention committee (Safety Committee) discussions began around the concerns of the Fire Department about 1950, spread to the Electrical Department/Division in the 1960s, was carried out on a regular basis by the Park Board from the early 1970s, and began to be administered by the Personnel Department's newly created Safety Division by 1972 (still in existence in 1997).
(6) Personnel policy development. The Personnel Committee was actively involved in policy development since the 1930s. The Director of Personnel was responsible for the day-to-day aspects of policy and procedures development, and policy documentation, from 1947 (policy pertained to job classification, regulations for entry into service, compensation plan development, appointments, promotions, transfers, salary adjustments, leave, payroll, insurance, superannuation, etc.).
(7) Position classification and pay determination. From 1982 this function has been carried out by the Compensation and Benefits Division. Previously City Council periodically charged a Commission on Civic Salaries with a broad evaluation exercise (1929 and 1945). In later years the Personnel Committee carried out analyses in conjunction with the Director of Personnel; exempt staff analyses have been carried out for Council by consultants (in recent years Council draws on the studies of the GVRD).
(8) Staff development and training. Staff training was a budget item within the Personnel Department from the late 1950s, and continues to be, though department specific training is not generally administered by the Personnel/Human Resources Department.
Before the Personnel Department was created in 1947, and up to 1965, personnel activities were spread throughout City departments.

The Personnel Department reported to the Personnel Committee 1947-1956, then to the Director of Finance (1957-1965), and subsequently to the City Manager (1965- ).

Divisions of the Personnel Department have been determined by broad functional groupings, which developed according to departmental growth and functional priorities. In 1997 the divisions are as follows: Compensation and Benefits Division; Employee Relations and Advisory Services Division; Occupational Health, Safety and Rehabilitation; and Staff Development Division.

Human Resource Services has had the following names:

  • Personnel Department, 1947-1957;
  • Personnel and Payroll, 1957-1965 (within the Finance Department);
  • Personnel Services Department, 1965-1991;
  • Human Resources Department, 1992-1995;
  • Human Resource Services, 1995- .
    The following individuals have served as head of the personnel office: B. H. Peterson, 1947-1966, 1972-1974; J. Stuart Don, 1966-1971; Don H. Pollard, 1974-1990; Eileen Stewart, 1990-1996; Marilyn Clark, 1996-1998; Mike Zora, 1998- .

Records in the Archives created by Human Resource Services consist primarily of Director's subject files (predominant 1948-1982) which relate to policy development on hiring, salaries, benefits, etc., as well as liaison with departments on specific hiring needs, liaison with unions, staff training, staff safety, and job classification developmen

Related Resources:
The earliest records relating to personnel decisions and policy development are in Council minutes (series 31, 1886- ); look in the indexes (series 32) under terms such as "Salaries" and individual position titles for the earliest period. Records documenting Council decisions on "exempt staff" (senior staff and others not in a union) from about 1947 are in series 35 (Council "in camera" minutes) and from the 1950s in series 56 (Council "in camera" supporting documents). There are files on salaries for excluded staff in the Clerk's series 20 (Subject files) under "Salaries" and "Finance" during the 1960s. Personnel Committee minutes are in series 33 (Standing committee minutes, vol. 56-58, 1930-1948); the Committee's working files are in series 27 (Special committee supporting documents). The Clerk's series 20 (Subject files, 1886-1975) contains files on union matters from 1921 (see the headings "Conciliation matters" or "Conciliation Board") and on personnel issues as they related to clerking for Council (under terms beginning with "Personnel . . . "). The most recent Clerk's files on personnel matters are in series 62 (Operational subject files, in the "Civic administration" subseries).

Vancouver (B.C.). Interim Advisory Museum Board

  • Corporate body

On 4 April 1967 Council appointed an Interim Advisory Museum Board further to a recommendation by the Board of Administration (23 Mar. 1967) which dealt with the "Heinrich" report (1966), a previous Board of Administration report (1966), and recommendations of the Art Gallery Association and Special Joint Committee (Museum and Maritime Museum).

The Interim Board was to provide Council with:

  • recommendations on the new museum complex's organization, objectives, budget, supporting associations, policy, and administration;
  • review of the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Museums Association agreements and by-law no. 3960; and,
  • recommendations on a permanent museum board.

Board membership was comprised of several members each from the Vancouver Civic Museum Board, the Special Joint Committee, and the Vancouver Museums Association, and others nominated by the foregoing. The Board may have dissolved on an informal basis in 1968.

Vancouver (B.C.). Legal Services

  • Corporate body

The Law Department originated 9 Aug. 1886 when a part-time City Solicitor was appointed to handle the City's legal affairs (drafting City by-laws, drafting charter amendments, interpreting legislation, representing the City in court actions, and giving legal advice to City Council). On 18 July 1910 the first full-time City Solicitor (and counsel for the City) was appointed and authorized to hire several support staff. Despite numerous configurations of position titles over the years, the functions of the City Solicitor's Office (1886-1936) and the Law Office or Law Department (1937-1995, designations alternated during the earlier years) have remained remarkably consistent. These were/are:
(1) By-law writing.
(2) City internal legal advisory.
(3) City of Vancouver counsel.
(4) Provincial legislation interpretation.
(5) Vancouver Charter writing.
Predecessors of the Law Department were: the Law Office or Law Department, 1937-1974; City Solicitor's Office, 1886-1936.
From 1886 the City Solicitor (and at times, the Corporation Counsel) reported to City Council. In 1956, with the establishment of the Board of Administration, the head of the Law Department reported to the Board. (In 1974 the Board was replaced by the City Manager.)
The internal organization of the department has undergone a number of changes since it was created. A department as such was formed in 1910; the City Solicitor was the head, 1910-1935, then the Corporation Counsel, 1935-1974. The legal office was known by the following names:

  • City Solicitor's Office, 1886-1936;
  • Law Office, 1937-1947;
  • Law Department, 1948-1995
  • Legal Services Department, 1995-
    The following individuals served as chief officer of the City's legal office. Initially the position was City Solicitor on contract: J. J. Blake, 1886-1887; T. T. Black, 1887-1892 (combined position of City Solicitor and Police Magistrate). Permanently appointed City Solicitors, though still on contract, were: A. Hammersley, 1893-1904?; A. McEvoy, 1905-1907 (combined position of City Clerk and City Solicitor); G. H. Cowan, 1907-1910 (combined position of City Solicitor and City Prosecutor); John Gilmour Hay, 1910-1914 (City Solicitor only, Legal Department with staff added); Edward F. Jones, 1915-1922; James B. Williams, 1923-1935. As of 1935 the position was called Corporation Counsel: Donald Edgar McTaggart, 1935-1948; Arthur E. Lord, 1948-1951; Russel Kemp Baker, 1951-1972.

Related Resources:
The Office of the City Clerk set up annual files on "City officials", "City Solicitor", "Law Office", "Law Department", in the extensive series 20 ("Subject files - including Council supporting documents").

Vancouver (B.C.). Market Commissioner

  • Corporate body

The City Market was first established in 1891 and closed down in 1948. The Market administrator was called Market Clerk, then as of the late 1930s, Market Commissioner. The administrator reported to City Council through the standing committee which was responsible for the Market. Supervision of the Market function was continually shifted from one standing committee to another, as follows:

  • Market Committee (1891, at that time a special committee);
  • Fire, Market and Police Committee (1895-1896);
  • Water and Market Committee (1896-1903);
  • Market and Industries Committee (1906-1916);
  • Market and Exhibition Committee (1916-1917);
  • Market, Exhibition and Returned Soldiers' Affairs Committee (1918);
  • Market and Exhibition Committee (1919-1923);
  • Market, Exhibition and Boulevards Committee (1924);
  • Building, Market and Exhibition Committee (1925-1928);
  • Market and Exhibition Committee (1929);
  • Market, Exhibition and Industries Committee (1930-1936);
  • Market, Exhibition and Tourist Development Committee (1937); and,
  • Market, Exhibition, Industries and Tourist Development Committee (1937-1944).

Vancouver (B.C.). Occupational Health Division

  • Corporate body

Occupational Health Services serves City of Vancouver employees, including Police, Fire, Board of Parks and Recreation and the Vancouver Public Library. Services offered include pre-employment, periodic, and special examinations, preventive programs, environmental health, and emergency first aid. The Employee Assistance Program provides confidential assistance to employees with personal problems (substance abuse, marital, family, emotional problems, etc.). The Division was transferred to the Human Resources Department after the Vancouver Health Department closed in 1995.

Alternate names: Occupational Health and Safety; Employee Health and Safety

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