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Vancouver Agreement

The Vancouver Agreement (VA) was signed on March 9, 2000 by the federal government, the provincial government and the City of Vancouver. The goal was to create healthy, safe and sustainable communities in Vancouver, starting with Vancouver's downtown eastside. The agreement, which is non-funded, has three components: community health and safety; economic and social development; and, community capacity building. The three governments are to cooperate with each other, work within their own jurisdictions and mandates, and use funding available within existing programs to address agreed-upon activities in Vancouver. Community engagement is a critical part of the approach being taken under the implementation of the agreement.

A federal and provincial Minister, and the Mayor of Vancouver, form a Policy Committee. Reporting to that tri-partite committee is a Management Committee made up of three senior representatives from each level of government. The lead federal departments are Western Economic Diversification, HRDC and Health Canada. Several other federal departments and agencies (e.g. Industry Canada, Justice, Heritage, Status of Women, Citizenship and Immigration, Corrections Services, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) also participate.

According to the case study, "for the most part, the VA has been an example of effective interdepartmental coordination [as] ... there is generally good collaboration and communication between departments". It was suggested that the coordination between governments has encouraged a more strategic use of funds; also the bottom-up approach has helped promote better partnerships.

Lessons Learned:

Vancouver Agreement

According to the case study, a few factors contributing to some success of the Vancouver Agreement as a horizontal initiative were said to be:

  • the establishment of the appropriate horizontal structures, such as the interdepartmental committee, with clear terms of reference
  • the leadership of some individuals, particularly one Minister and a couple federal officials who personally championed the initiative and garnered support for it
  • community (i.e. stakeholder) engagement is essential
  • the hiring of a communications co-ordinator

The case study indicated that some of the biggest impediments to the success of the Vancouver Agreement as a horizontal initiative have been:

  • the lack of dedicated financial resources and dedicated staff; "without dedicated resources, both human and financial, it is difficult, if not impossible for departments to provide the time and effort required to use existing funds in an innovative and comprehensive manner" to address the issues of the target community
  • the lack of a secretariat
  • the current terms and conditions (T&Cs) on many federal programs are viewed as being too restrictive to meet the needs; the T&Cs do not lend themselves to the flexibility required
  • the priority given to vertical work as opposed to horizontal work; "horizontal work is important until work conflicts arise, then core work takes precedence"