In September, Council adopted the Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) policy, a framework setting standards for development industry practices to ensure that real estate development brings short-term and long-term improvements in communities through local hiring, social procurement, and capacity building. The CBA process is a collaboration between community organizations, the City, and the development industry, with extensive community engagement. Under a CBA, a developer commits to actions, targets and outcomes relating to employment and procurement in a community where the development is occurring, or with equity-seeking groups in nearby communities. (Equity-seeking groups are groups that experience marginalization due to factors based on economic or immigrant status, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, faith, education, or disability or health condition.
In this phase, the policy applies to development sites with more that 45,000 m2 of floor space, and optionally to sites with more than 2,290 m2 that seek to reach corporate social responsibility goals. A CBA working group of CBA developers will work with a third party implementation partner to facilitate labour sourcing and material procurement, and to coordinate stakeholder engagement and community engagement. The working group will report back to Council every two years.
Groundwork for the CBA policy formed part of the 2016 DTES Community Economic Development Strategy, whose objectives include scaling up and building capacity in the social enterprise sector, and leveraging the present of anchor institutions and major industries for social procurement. The CBA policy also builds on the experience of recent CBAs on major projects with Parq Urban Resort and Casino and with Concord Pacific Developments, and draws on frameworks introduced at the federal and provincial levels in 2018.
Vancouver is the first major city in Canada to introduce a formal CBA policy, and is designed to reach the poverty reduction and community economic development goals of the Healthy City Strategy adopted by Council in 2014. As such, it represents a significant innovation in CBA practice at the municipal, seeking to embed CBAs as a standard development practice to maximize opportunities for employment and skills development among marginalized groups that would otherwise be bypassed or excluded. In addition to the three core elements of the CBA policy approach – First Source Hiring, Social Procurement, and Supplier Diversity, the implementation of the policy will also focus on Coordinated Workforce Development, Up-skilling and Re-skilling, and Capacity Building in Local Supply Chains. In addition to addressing poverty reduction goals, the policy is also seen a strategy for strengthening local social and economic resilience.