British Columbia

City of Vancouver passes motion that would permit permanent residents to vote in local elections

The city's motion still needs to be approved by the provincial government.

Motion still needs provincial approval

A city task force told council giving permanent residents, whose numbers are the equivalent of more than 30 per cent of the people who voted in its last civic election, the right to vote would engage more people in the community. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

The City of Vancouver has approved a motion that would give permanent residents the right to vote in municipal elections, but it still needs to be approved by the provincial government.

Currently, a person needs to be at least 18 years old and a Canadian citizen to vote.

City council was told by a task force that extending the vote to permanent residents would engage more people in the community.

"Once implemented, it would be a huge move forward in terms of our ability to be a welcoming and inclusive city," said Coun. Andrea Reimer, who said she has been working on this since 2012.

"You experience all the same challenges and have some of the same opportunities, except you don't have the same opportunity to affect the outcome of policies at the civic level."

Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson didn't make any promises when asked about the motion Wednesday but applauded the city's decision to pursue it.

"It's always very interesting and heartwarming to hear local governments trying to find ways to engage people in the democratic process," said Robinson.

"The fact there's a local government out there that is keen to do more engagement in our democracy is a good thing overall."

A preamble to the motion says 11 municipalities across Canada are currently working toward extending local voting rights to permanent residents.

It states there were close to 60,000 permanent residents living and working in Vancouver in 2011: the equivalent of 33 percent of voters in the 2014 municipal election.

With files from Justin McElroy