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Vancouver city council approves motion to lobby IOC

Stevenson’s Sochi mission will be publicly funded

Councillor Tim Stevenson welcomed an amendment to his Sochi motion Dec 18 to make his portion of the Russian trip city-funded, rather than funded by private donations as originally proposed. Credit: Shauna Lewis

Vancouver city council has passed a motion to lobby the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to amend its charter to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The motion, proposed by Councillor Tim Stevenson, passed unanimously Dec 18.

The motion will also see city council lobby the IOC to make Pride Houses part of city bids for all future Olympic Games.

“This is a very emotional issue for our community. It is something that hits us in the heart. I am pleased that it is a unanimous vote,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson will now attend the Sochi Games in Russia as deputy mayor of Vancouver and meet with IOC officials.

Green Councillor Adriane Carr successfully amended the motion to make Stevenson’s Sochi mission city-funded, rather than privately funded as originally proposed.

The amendment stemmed from concerns over donations offered by developers Peter Wall and Bob Rennie to help cover the costs of the mission. Some suggested it might be a conflict of interest for the developers to privately fund a council initiative, though city staff dismissed the concern.

“There are certain areas of the [city] Charter and Code of Conduct that deal in issues of conflict of interest,” city manager Penny Ballem explained.

She defined a conflict as potentially arising from “benefit, gifts or other articles that could lead to an influence on an elected official in their undertaking of business in council.”

Ballem said she and other staff examined the initiative’s resources, proposed use of funds, transparency and oversight and concluded that there was no conflict.

“We are very, very comfortable that there is no conflict of interest,” she said.

Stevenson still welcomed Carr’s amendment. “The issue of conflict was becoming increasingly difficult for me, as it kept coming up in the press,” he said. “I felt in a bit of a quandary.”

Carr said she introduced the motion to clear any lingering perception of conflict of interest, despite staff assurances. “My intent was to establish clear responsibility,” she said. “My intent is also to defuse the situation.”

Carr’s motion was backed by NPA Councillor George Affleck and approved by council.

While Stevenson’s expenses for Sochi will be now funded by the city, his co-delegates — Dean Nelson, co-creator of Whistler Pride House, and Maureen Douglas, who worked with the Vancouver organizing committee for the 2010 Games — will still be supported by private donations.