B.C. homeowner ramping up battle to remove shocking racist language from land title

Click to play video: 'West Vancouver resident fights to remove racist language from government document' West Vancouver resident fights to remove racist language from government document
A West Vancouver homeowner has launched a petition to try to force the City of West Vancouver to remove antiquated, racist language from the covenant on her property. Aaron McArthur reports – May 31, 2022

Warning: Some language in this story may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is advised. 

A West Vancouver homeowner is ramping up the battle to remove shocking racist language from an old legal document.

Michele Tung lives in the British Properties. It is an area of West Vancouver known for its multi-million-dollar views and exclusive homes.

The area was marketed to white settlers in the 1930s and land titles at the time specifically excluded certain people from buying or even living in these homes.

Tung had known about the covenant on her home but was stunned to learn that even though it has not been enforced for almost 50 years, she had to submit it in order to get a permit to do some renovations.

The covenant states: “That the Grantee shall not sell, assign, or transfer the said lands or any interest therein to any person or persons of the African or Asiatic race or of African or Asiatic descent.”

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“I was flabbergasted,” Tung said.

The issue was first brought up two years ago and Tung wants to know why the city still hasn’t taken action to delete the language.

“One clause said ‘no pigs, no cattle,’ so no farm animals,” she said.

“But then below that, it said ‘no one of Asiatic or African descent was able to reside on the property unless they were a servant.'”

An example of one land title for a home in the British Properties of West Vancouver, with a covenant highlighted that seeks to bar people of “African or Asiatic” descent or origin from living there. Global News

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Tung said when they moved into the house in 2008, they already requested the city remove the language of ‘no Jews and no Chinese’ from their property title.

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“So then to be asked, by the city, after a motion was passed two-and-a-half years ago that they were in the process of removing all of this language in our municipality, to see this and then be asked by a staff member to submit this information was very shocking to me,” she said.

“But in addition to that, I was very angry because my children, I am ethnically Chinese, my husband is Belgian, and so basically, my children are mixed, so basically this was a situation where people, a company, a government, that was shaming them for being who they are.”

The covenant is not legally enforceable as of 1978 but the amendment did not empower the Land Title and Survey Authority to proactively search for, identify, and delete discriminatory language from covenants that had been registered prior to 1978, or to delete occurrences of discriminatory language found.

Click to play video: 'Racism and discrimination in Canadian real estate' Racism and discrimination in Canadian real estate
Racism and discrimination in Canadian real estate – Jul 18, 2020

British Pacific Properties issued a statement to Global News saying it agrees with the direction West Vancouver is taking.

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President Geoffrey Croll said the company has a role to play in proactively identifying all the properties developed and sold that still have restrictive covenants and sharing that with the land titles office.

However, it remains a document and process that is still applied. Tung said there is no need for this type of language.

Tung has now started a petition to call on the District of West Vancouver to remove the restrictive covenants.

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In March, the District voted that the issue should be submitted for consideration at the 2022 Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Annual Convention, which is set to take place in September in Whistler.

Tung said this has gone on long enough and is hoping pressure on all levels of government will finally remove the stain from the title of her home.

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