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People and organizations

Boyce, Helen Demetra

  • Person
  • 1928-

Helen Demetra Boyce was born February 2, 1928 in Spokane, Washington, and received her education at Kitsilano Secondary, and Duffus Business College. She began her political career as a Park Board Commissioner, winning the 1968 election as a candidate for The Elector's Action Movement (T.E.A.M.). She left T.E.A.M. in 1970, but succeeded in winning a second Park Board term. In 1974 she won a seat on the School Board, and in the civic election of 1974, successfully stood as an aldermanic candidate. She served the 1975-76 term, and subsequently from 1979 to 1982. In 1985-86, Boyce served once more on Park Board, as its Vice Chairman. She stood as an aldermanic candidate for the Non-Partisans Association (N.P.A.) in 1986, as well as seeking - unsuccessfully - the Social Credit Party nomination for Point Grey. Helen Boyce has the distinction to be the first person to have served on all three of Vancouver's elected bodies - City Council, Parks & Public Recreation Board and the School Board.

Term of office:

Calder, Brian K.

  • Person

Elected in 1968 under the Non-Partisan Association (N.P.A.) slate, Brian K. Calder resigned from the N.P.A. in December of 1969. In 1970 he ran under The Elector's Action Movement (T.E.A.M.) organization and served as alderman until stepping down in 1972. He served on the Town Planning Commission, worked for programs for transient youth and opposed a second crossing of Burrard Inlet.

Term of office:

Davies, Elizabeth (Libby)

  • Person
  • 1953-

Libby Davies was born Elizabeth Davies in Aldershot, England in 1953. Her father was a British Army Major and the family travelled extensively until arriving in Canada in 1968. Libby was married to Bruce Eriksen which whom she had a son, Lief. She met Eriksen through her father, a social planner, who had introduced Eriksen to advocacy work in the downtown eastside. In 1973 Libby joined DERA (Downtown Eastside Residents' Association), founded by Eriksen, as a community worker and did so for nine years. In her advocacy work she produced a community newsletter and established a cooperative food store. During that time Libby attended the University of British Columbia and withdrew prior to completing her studies. In 1976 and 1978 she ran unsuccessfully for Vancouver City Council. In 1980 she was elected and served two years on the Vancouver Parks Board. Libby was first elected to city council in 1982 and served five consecutive terms till 1993. She was a member of a civic political organization known as COPE (Committee of Progressive Electors). As an Alderman she was involved in issues such as affordable housing, an improved transit system, hot lunches for schoolchildren and a nuclear-free Port of Vancouver. She spoke out on poverty, peace and women's issues. In 1994 to 1997 she worked with the Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) serving as Ombudsperson for Human Rights, Complaints Investigator and Coordinator of Human Resources. In 1997 she was elected as Member of Parliament for Vancouver East and re-elected in 2000. She is presently (2002) the federal NDP spokesperson for Housing, Children & Youth, Post-Secondary Education, Multiculturism, Urban Affairs, and Social Policy. For her work in social justice and equality issues she has been acknowledged with awards from the Vancouver and District Labour Council and the YMCA.

Term of office:

Phillips, Arthur

  • Person

Terms of Office:

1968-1973 (council)
1973-1977 (mayor)

Vancouver (B.C.). Accounting Division

  • Corporate body

The Accounting Division recorded transactions in books of original entry, posted data to ledgers, summarized data in trial balance, and prepared financial statements. [Formerly known as the "Office of the City Accountant" until 1966?]

Accounting kept records by fund, e.g., capital fund, general revenue fund, sinking fund, debt charges equalization fund, and cemetery perpetual care fund.

Vancouver (B.C.). Archives Advisory Committee

  • Corporate body

The Archives Advisory Committee was established by Council on 13 February 1975 to advise the City Clerk and City Archivist on acquisitions, donations, revenue projects, public education, public relations, equipment, facilities, and related matters.

Vancouver (B.C.). Athletic Commission

  • Corporate body

The Vancouver Athletic Commission was established on April 30th, 1945 with the passing of by-law 2875, and is responsible for controlling and supervising professional boxing, kick boxing, and wrestling events in the city. It also prescribes the rules and regulations governing these events. The Commission consists of five members, four appointed by City Council on an annual basis, and the fifth member a councillor, who acts as a liason between the Board and City Council.

Vancouver (B.C.). Board of Variance

  • Corporate body

The provincial Town Planning Act of 1925 (section 16) required that a zoning by-law board of appeal be established by local governments. When the Town Planning Act was repealed the Zoning Board of Appeal was further provided for in the Vancouver Charter of 1959 (sections 572 and 573). The City passed the Zoning Board of Appeal By-law (no. 3844) on 17 May 1960. Its functions were to act as an appeal Board to zoning decisions made by an individual official or a City body (at that time the Technical Planning Board). The by-law provided for inspection of building sites by the Board. The Planning Department was to assign an employee as secretary and records custodian for the Board. Members of the Board were appointed and were to to have no connection with the City. The Board's function can be stated as:
(1) Zoning By-law exception rulings.
The Zoning Board of Appeal made final decisions and reported to no higher authority.
From the 1925 Town Planning Act the internal organization has remained fairly consistent: one Board member appointed by City Council, another by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of the Province of British Columbia, and the third and chair by the other two. In recent years membership has been slightly enlarged.
Names varied as follows: Zoning By-law Board of Appeal, 1927-1960; Zoning Board of Appeal, 1960-1988; (and as of 1988, Board of Variance).

Vancouver (B.C.). City Council

  • Corporate body

The 1886 Act of Incorporation of the City of Vancouver provided for ten Aldermen and a Mayor to form the Council. Aldermen were renamed Councillors in 1992. The broad function of Councillors, as direct representatives of the public, is to participate in the governance of the city through Council and its various Committees, Boards and Commissions. As members of Council, they propose by-laws and resolutions, consider and vote on all matters governed by the Council, and generally bring public and political concerns to the decision-making process. In carrying out these responsibilities, Councillors have no authority as individuals other than those powers delegated by Council as a whole. An example is the appointment by Council of one of its members as Deputy Mayor. Until 1936, Councillors were primarily elected under the ward system, in which Councillors were representatives of their respective wards. Since 1936, they have been elected in the present "at large" system. The nature of Councillors' duties have also changed over time. Before 1956, they were involved in all aspects of the governance of the City, including its daily operations. Since 1956, when the Committee structure of governance was abolished and a Board of Administration was established in their place to manage all operations, Councillors have become more involved in policy development and deciding long term goals for the city. They have also had the opportunity to specialize in their own areas of civic interest.

Under the Vancouver Charter Council has authority to delegate its executive or administrative powers to any committee comprised of members of Council or employees of the City. In many respects the "special committees" established during their particular periods indicate the issues or administrative trends of their day. For example, from 1930 to 1959 Council struck a very large number of special committees for brief periods to carry out a wide variety of activities, while more recently, since about 1975, special committees are fewer and generally remain in place for a number of years. Special committees have been assigned power to act or charged with reporting and preparing recommendations for Council. During 1930-1959 it was particularly common practice to also consider the following types of groups "special committees": ad hoc subcommittees of standing committees, working groups of senior staff who submitted reports (and sometimes recommendations), and small delegations of Council members in search of information or to communicate with higher government offices. Special committee memberships have varied widely, including many combinations of Council and/or City staff, private citizens, and members of outside organizations.

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.). Electrical Division

  • Corporate body
  • 1966-1988

In 1966, the planned introduction of a Permits and Licenses Department catalyzed a large change for the Electrical Department: since the new Department was to assume responsibility for all inspection services, it was noted that the remainder of functions performed by the Electrical Department were essentially engineering in nature. It was therefore recommended by the City Engineer that the department be set up as a division of the Engineering Department – a recommendation which was accepted and officially occurred in November of 1966.

In the period from 1966 to 1988, the structure of the Electrical Division remained remarkably stable; the division was composed of three branches: Street Lighting & Utilities Control, Electrical Operations, and Electrical Engineering (also referred to as Electrical & Communications Design).

In 1988, the Electrical Division was renamed the Electrical & Utilities Control Division and assumed responsibility for the entire Drafting Branch of Engineering Services.

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.). 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

Vancouver (B.C.). Office of the City Clerk

  • Corporate body

The basis for the authority of the City of Vancouver's City Council is the first Vancouver Act of Incorporation of April 6, 1886 enacted by the Government of the Province of British Columbia. The Act set out the powers, functions, and some procedures relating to the government of the City of Vancouver, and required election of a City Council, the governing body of the local government. Although the City of Vancouver funds the Library, the schools, and the parks, each of these have their own governing boards. The Act of Incorporation (more recently called the Vancouver Charter) has been amended frequently, and is periodically revised and consolidated. The Act has defined the increasing land parameters of Vancouver. In 1886 Vancouver extended from the West End and Alma Road in the west, to Nanaimo Street in the east, and 16th Avenue to the south. In 1911, District Lot 301 and the Townsite of Hastings were annexed (so that Vancouver then extended east to Boundary Road, and south to 25th and 29th Avenues in some areas of the eastern half of the city). Then in 1929, the municipalities of South Vancouver and Point Grey were amalgamated with Vancouver (to result in present-day boundaries to the south and west). City Council's powers may be exercised by by-law or resolution, according to the provisions of the Charter. Powers have included: creation and maintenance of "public works" (now often referred to as "the infrastructure"); land and building regulation; provision of police and fire protection; maintaining health standards; provision of cultural and recreation services; and tax collection through property taxes, business licenses, and other fees. Local government is responsible to the provincial government, according to the Municipal Act of British Columbia. Some of the relationships with provincial and federal government are intricate, as program requirements are legislated from above, and some program funding is provided by senior governments. The Mayor is the president of Council according to British parliamentary traditions. In order to carry out its functions Council has the authority to determine the internal organization of the governance and bureaucracy. Until 1956 Council was formally involved in all aspects of the operations of the City through the "Council Committee" system. The system was seen as increasingly cumbersome and ineffective, so the Board of Administration was created to take care of managing operations, all the bureaucracy's administrative and service functions except governance (as of 1974 the Board was replaced by the City Manager). Standing committees, as subdivisions of the major aspects of the business of Council, have always existed.
The responsibilities of the City Clerk were established with the Act of Incorporation in 1886, which declared the City Clerk to be the Returning Officer of the City (the official responsible for voters' lists and elections). Additional duties included purchasing supplies and were somewhat undefined. With the clarifications of the 1900 Act of Incorporation, formalized responsibilities included recording Council minutes, keeping custody of the by-laws, and maintaining financial records. The Clerk also received all mail directed to the City. A 1912 by-law assigned responsibility for facilitating communication between the citizens, the Mayor, Council, and Council's committees to the City Clerk. In a 1953 Act of Incorporation amendment, the Clerk was named as custodian of the City seal. With the exception of financial functions, which long ago passed to financial officers, the Clerk's responsibilities have remained remarkably consistent. The primary functions over time have been: taking minutes for the meetings of City Council and related bodies; keeping the records of the City of Vancouver as required by the Vancouver Charter; carrying out correspondence on behalf of Council; keeping all records related to City Council decision making (including large volumes of supporting documents); assembling voters' lists and carrying out elections (for Council, the Park Board, the School Board, and on plebiscites); providing communication, information, and public relations services, including responsibility for civic ceremonies; and, since 1970, responsibility for the Archives. From 1886 to 1974, the City Clerk reported directly to Council; from 1974 the position has been reporting to the City Manager's Office. Although the formal organization of the City Clerk's Department has in recent years consisted of a number of divisions - the Council secretariat, the Voters' List Division, periodically a small Public Relations / Communications Division, and the Archives and Records Division (since 1970) - in practice, the Office of the City Clerk has included all divisional sections except the Archives. During some periods the Office of the City Clerk was more commonly referred to as the City Clerk's Office, though the former has prevailed.

The following individuals have served as City Clerk:
Thomas Francis McGuigan, 1886-1905
Arthur McEvoy, 1905-1907
William McQueen, 1907-1931
Charles Jones, 1931-1935
W. L. Woodford, 1935
Fred Howlett, 1935-1945 (acting 1935-1937)
Ronald Thompson, 1945-1973
Douglas Haig Little, 1973-1978
Robert Henry, 1978-1987
Maria Kinsella, 1987-1997
Ulli Watkiss, 1998-2001
Syd Baxter, 2001-2008
Marg Coulson 2008- (acting 2008-2009)

For more historical information on the above bodies see the inventory for the City Council and the Office of the City Clerk fonds. Administrative histories for other creators in this fonds (e.g. Airport Board) are given at the series level.

Related Resources:
For South Vancouver and Point Grey municipality Council, City Clerk's, and all other retained archival records dating from before amalgamation with the City of Vancouver in 1929, see the Corporation of the District of South Vancouver fonds and the Corporation of Point Grey fonds. The offices forming City Council, the mayor and aldermen (now called councillors), are arranged as the Mayor's Office fonds and the Councillors' office fonds.

Vancouver (B.C.). Office of the City Manager

  • Corporate body
  • 1956-

From the incorporation of the City of Vancouver in 1886 until the appointment of the Board of Administration in June 1956, the civic government of the City of Vancouver was administered through a Council-Committee format. Under this arrangement, City Council retained the right of final approval on all matters within their jurisdiction, but concentrated their efforts on policy making; the handling of the daily business of the City was delegated to a number of Special and Standing Committees of Council. As early as 1907, there were attempts to establish a Board of Control to administer the City’s business – but it was not until 1955 that an investigation of the civic administration (conducted by the Public Administration Service of Chicago, Inc. (PAS)) that the impetus for reorganization was found. In 1956, PAS strongly recommended that a City Manager be appointed to handle the daily business of the City. City Council was divided over the merits of the proposed system, and there was no shortage of debate: the first four months of 1956 saw a number of proposals placed before Council for re-organizing Vancouver’s civic administration. In the end, on May 2nd, 1956, the General Purposes Committee endorsed a proposal calling for a Board of Administration which would eventually consist of the Mayor, one alderman appointed by the Mayor (who was to vote only in the Mayor’s absence), and two permanent civic officials known as Commissioners. The newly-minted Board of Administration would replace all eight standing committees and a number of special committees.

When setting up the Board, City Council reserved the right to define, through bylaws, the duties, responsibilities, and the composition of the Board; in the terms of the 1957 Provincial Government amendment to the City Charter, all the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Board were to be delegated to that body solely at the discretion of City Council. The new body was to be primarily responsible for (as identified in Bylaw #3584):
a) the effective execution of Council policies and legislative enactments,
b) co-ordinating municipal services and directing the business affairs of the City, and
c) advising and assisting City Council.

The Board of Administration was to last in practice until 1973, and in name until 1974. In its 18 years of existence, the Board of Administration steadily evolved into the position of the City Manager. The first reorganization of the Board of Administration came on October 2nd, 1962, when Bylaw #4017 was passed, which reduced the membership of the Board to the two permanent Commissioners and removing the elected representatives. On April 10th, 1973, Bylaw #4691 reduced the Board to a single Commissioner. Finally, the culmination of the progress toward a City Manager run civic administration occurred on September 10th 1974, when Bylaw #4794 was passed, removing the title of Board of Administration and replacing it with the title of City Manager, thus establishing de jure what already existed de facto. The City Manager assumed the same duties and responsibilities as the Board of Administration, acting primarily as the City’s chief administrative officer and advisor, and the City Manager is reported to by all of the City’s units except for the Boards (the Vancouver Library Board, the Vancouver Police Board, and the Board of Parks and Recreation). The City Manager had staff positions of Executive Assistant (which became Deputy City Clerk in 1977) and an Administrative Analyst; the collective name of this unit is the “Office of the City Manager.”

The following individuals have served as members of the Board of Administration. Mayor and Chair: Mayor Frederick Hume, 1956-1959; Mayor A. Thomas Alsbury, 1959-1962 (though the Municipal Year Book no longer lists the Mayor as of 1961). Aldermen (who acted as chair and voted in the absence of the Mayor): George C. Miller, 1956-1958; Jonathan W. Cornett, 1958-1959; H. D. Wilson, 1959-1960. Commissioners (two at a time): Frank Jones, 1956-1959; John C. Oliver, 1956-1965; Gerald Sutton Brown, 1960-1973; Lorne E. Ryan, 1965-1974.

The following individuals have served as City Manager: Lorne E. Ryan, 1974-1976; Fritz Bowers, 1977-1990; Kenneth Dobell, 1990-1998; Judy Rogers, 1999-2008; Penny Ballem, 2008-2015, Sadhu Johnston 2015- present .

Vancouver (B.C.). Permits and Licenses Department

  • Corporate body

The Department of Permits and Licenses was established on February 28, 1967 with the amalgamation of a variety of inspection, licensing, and business tax units, to coalesce, within a couple of years, into the following primary divisions: the new office of Director, the head of the expanded Department; the Building Inspection Office (comprised of the former Building Department, including its head, still called the Building Inspector, with the addition of Electrical Inspection, formerly part of the Electrical Department, and two Engineering offices, the Smoke Inspector and the Septic Tank Inspector); and the License and Business Tax Office (a unit moved intact, along with its head, the City License Inspector and Business Tax Collector, from the Finance Department). The authority for the department's regulatory activities derives from the Vancouver Incorporation Act of 1886 (section 120, "Powers of Council to Pass By-laws") and its subsequent amendments and revisions, and is supplemented by the British Columbia Municipal Act which defines municipal standards relating to public safety, public health, and business regulation. The intricacies of almost continual structural fine tunings can best be summarized by brief notes on functions including air pollution monitoring, animal control, building and development permit processing, building inspection, business licensing and taxation, City owned buildings construction and maintenance, electrical inspection, gas inspection, industrial waste inspection, plumbing inspection, and properties inspection. These functions evolved as follows:
(1) Air pollution monitoring. Carried out by the smoke inspectors of the Engineering Department until 1967; part of Permits and Licenses' responsibilities 1967-1971. In 1971 the GVRD took over this function.
(2) Animal control. Operation of the City Pound and issuance of animal licenses was carried out by the License and Business Tax Office of the Finance Department until 1967, then moved to the Permits and Licenses Department.
(3) Building and development permit processing. The building permit process is primarily overseen by plan checkers who work closely with the building trades, while development permits were monitored by the Building Inspector, then by the zoning staff within the Planning Department. However, there has always been a close relationship and overlap between the two functions (zoning was part of Permits and Licenses for a short period, approximately 1967-1969).
(4) Building inspection. City Council first spoke of the need for a Building Inspector in June 1899 (referring the matter to the Board of Works). By-law no. 366 (12 Nov. 1900) first defined building standards and assigned the Building Inspector to examine building plans and issue building permits according to the standards. Building permit records were kept by the Building Inspector from at least January 1901. The earliest building standards adjudication was carried out directly by City Council (which had that authority from the Vancouver Incorporation Act, see Council minutes for procedural details), then by the Building Inspector (an autonomous unit until 1967), then by the Permits and Licenses Department as a division (variously named Building Inspection, Inspection and Enforcement, Permits and Inspection, etc.).
(5) Business licensing and taxation. These functions enforce or enable the License By-law, the Vehicle Licensing By-law, the Vehicle for Hire By-law, the Business Tax By-law, etc. The earliest of many business licensing by-laws passed by City Council related to liquor licenses (no. 5, 1886) and cabs and drays, etc. (no. 8, 1886). Carried out originally by City Council (in conjunction with the City Clerk and City Solicitor) , then by the Fire, Health and License Inspector's Office (by 1891), and eventually by the License and Business Tax Office of the Finance Department until 1967, when it transferred, in tact, to the Permits and Licenses Department. In 1984 the business tax was repealed, but licensing continued.
(6) City owned buildings construction and maintenance. This function relates to the control and coordination of the consultants and contractors hired for these purposes. Carried out by the Building Department until 1967, by the Permits and Licenses Department until 1978 (then by the newly created Civic Buildings Department).
(7) Electrical inspection. Has enforced the Electrical By-law and the Fire By-law (including fire alarms, emergency lighting, etc.). Carried out by a unit of the Electrical Department until taken over by the Permits and Licenses Department in 1967.
(8) Gas inspection. This function relates to the construction of gas lines according to regulations. Carried out by the Building Department until 1967, then by the Permits and Licenses Department.
(9) Industrial waste inspection. Has enforced aspects of the Plumbing By-law, ensuring that industrial waste is safely discharged into the sewer systems.
(10) Plumbing inspection. Carried out by the Building Department until 1967, then by the Permits and Licenses Department.
(11) Properties inspection. Has enforced the Zoning and Development By-law, the Standards of Maintenance By-law, the Untidy Premises By-law, and part of the Sign By-law.
Predecessors of the Permits and Licenses Department are: the Engineering Department, 1886-1967; the Building Inspector's Office (i.e. the Building Department), 1900-1967; the Electrical Department (electrical inspection only), ca. 1920-1967); and the License and Business Tax Office of the Finance Department, ca. 1890-1967.

The Permits and Licenses Department reported to the Board of Administration 1967-1974, and subsequently to the Board's replacement, the Office of the Ciy Manager, 1974-1995. In 1995 the Permits and Licenses Department became a unit of the larger service group, Community Services, so reported to the General Manager of Community Services.
The internal organization of the Permits and Licenses Department has varied considerably, both in terms of the number and types of divisions, and the divisional alignments of some of the branches. The primary functional units which have existed from the early period are: building permits and inspection, and other types of inspection; and business license and business tax administration. In 1980, about 13 years after the two primary functional units become the core of the Permits and Licenses Department, the following internal organization is given in the City's organization chart: the Permits and Inspections Division (including Permits and Plan Checking, Building Inspection, Plumbing Inspection, Electrical Inspection, and Industrial Waste Inspection); the Property Use Division (consisting of Property Use Inspection); the License and Business Tax Division (including License and Business Tax, City Pound, an Vehicles for Hire Inspection); and the Administrative Service Division (including Correspondence, Reception, Data Resource, and Steno Pool).
The name of the Permits and Licenses Department has not changed since 1967.
The following individuals have served as director of the Permits and Licenses Department: H. L. Bryson (1967-1978); Roger Hebert (1979-1992); Jack Perri (1993- ).

Related Resources:
For further information on the origins of the functions of the department consult City Council minutes (series 31) and the corresponding early indexes. The City Clerk kept City Council supporting files on all matters before Council; series 20 contains "Building Inspector" files from 1910, and "License Inspector" files from 1891.

Vancouver (B.C.). Revenue and Treasury Division

  • Corporate body

Since 1966, the Revenue and Treasury Division has been responsible for the functions of treasury and tax collection. The treasury function has been part of the Department of Finance since 1886. Prior to 1966, the duties associated with this function were carried out by the City Treasurer and included receiving monies, the paying of authorized accounts, custody of negotiable securities (with the Director of Finance) and the recording of debenture ownership as requested. The tax collection function has also been part of the Department of Finance since 1886. Prior to 1966, the duties associated with this function were carried out by various offices, e.g., the Collector of Taxes, Poll Tax Collector, Revenue Tax Collector, and Special Collections Branch, and included the collection of property taxes, local improvement charges and flat water rates, parking meter monies, and other sundry accounts, auctions involving the tax sale of property, the issuing of tax certificates and the custody of the tax rolls. In 1966, these two functions were brought together through the amalgamation of the Property Tax Branch and Collections Branch to form the Revenue and Treasury Division.

Vancouver (B.C.). Water and Sewers Division

  • Corporate body
  • [1887]-

In 1886, in addition to the Chief Engineer, a Sewerage Engineer was appointed to keep a watchful eye over the development of the city’s sewer system, and reported to the Board of Works. By 1895, inspection of sewers fell under the purview of the Board of Health; it wasn’t until 1906 that a sewer inspector would once again report to the Board of Works. In 1914, there is the first mention of the Sewer Department in estimates. It was also around this time that an Assistant City Engineer was assigned to the area of Sewers. The functional scope of this division remained largely unchanged (except for an amalgamation into the Sewer and Scavenging Department from 1926-1930) for a long period of time.

Following a departmental review by external consultants in 1954, the Engineering Department underwent a major restructuring of its organizational framework: divisions based on the type of operation performed were replaced by three basic divisions: administration, operations, and traffic management. This structure remained in place for only a few years.

From that time, the push and pull of administrative re-ordering has seen the Sewers responsibilities associated with the following divisions within the Engineering Department/Engineering Services: Departmental Services & Sewers ([1975]-1990); Water, Sewers & Budgets (1991-1994); Water, Sewers & Yards (1995-1999); Water & Sewers (2000-2005).

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