Vancouver hopes to become one of the first major cities in Canada to earn special status for its commitment to fair-trade principles.
The city already has policies that guide ethical purchasing of goods, but two councillors want to apply for recognition from Ottawa-based TransFair Canada.
If successful, Vancouver would be labelled a Fair Trade Town, and join a growing list that includes the B.C. communities of Golden, Revelstoke and Nakusp. Montreal, St. John's and Quebec City are also seeking the status.
Coun. Andrea Reimer told the Straight by phone today (April 30) that the volunteer-run group Fair Trade Vancouver approached the city with the idea.
“Given that it didn’t involve new resources and potentially could give us new information and a better way to market ethical purchasing, it seemed like a good idea,” she said.
Reimer and Coun. Raymond Louie have introduced a motion on the matter that council is set to debate on May 4.
The city’s existing purchasing policy is limited to agricultural items such as coffee, tea and uniforms, Reimer said. But she added there are plans to widen the scope to include other goods and services.
The Fair Trade Towns program would also hold Vancouver to a higher level of ethical accountability, Reimer said.
“It’s just a way of getting recognition for work we’re already doing and also accessing a network that is also doing that work so we can learn stuff from them around purchasing policy faster than we can learn it on our own.”