Councillor Elizabeth Ball laughs when it’s suggested to her that some people might argue Vancouver City Hall is already full of babies.
But she’s not joking. Inspired by recent provincial legislation to allow B.C.’s MLA parents to bring their infant kids to work, she’s proposing a similar amendment — applying to children under the age of two — for Vancouver city council.
“Many women say to me, well I’ve got a small child, there’s just no way I could go in there,” Ball told Global News.
As it stands, babies aren’t actually prohibited from the council floor. But existing rules do require explicit permission from the Chair or City Clerk to permit anyone to enter the space.
“We just want to make sure that it’s clear that there doesn’t need to be any permission granted. If you have a baby, a male or female person on council, and the baby’s in your care for that period of time, then you can bring it in.”
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Ball said when she was raising her own kids, both she and her husband were lucky enough to work places that permitted infants, and she credits the bonding experience with the tight relationship she has with them now.
“Politicians are human, they have babies, and they should be treated the same as other companies who allow babies to come in, because they realize it’s important to our society that we have children who are well adjusted because they’ve been able to spend that early time with their parents,” she said.
She added that city council hours can be brutal — sometimes sitting from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. — tough on anyone, but particularly young parents who have an infant at home.
With a new round of elections coming up — and with many sitting councillors bowing out — Ball said she wants to see the change made to encourage a new, younger crop of politicans to consider public life.
She added that if the idea is successful, she’d like to see it spread to other municipalities around the region.
Council will vote on the motion on Tuesday. If it passes, staff will draft recommended new rules that would also be fanned out to the Park Board, Vancouver Public Library Board and Vancouver Police Board.