The District of Sparwood has voted to support the City of New Westminster’s lobbying the provincial government to support no-cost prescription contraception.
At the Oct. 20 regular meeting, three representatives for the Sparwood Contraception Access Advocates (SCAA) – Justine Bowen, Joni Laberge and Rylee McDonald – stood before council to request the letter of support, along with an amendment to Sparwood’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and an apology to those disregarded by previous decisions.
“We intend to address issues of awareness, connection and respect that this controversial event revealed within our local government,” said Laberge.
“We want a local government that acknowledges all people, and that makes a sincere effort to understand what citizens value and need… This is a request to legislate organizational behaviour, and to make active inclusion part of our community’s identity.”
A motion requesting a letter of support was put forward by Councillor Amy Cardozo and supported by the majority of council and mayor, with only Cr Christenen voting against.
Requests for an amendment to the OCP are now in the hands of district staff.
According to Laberge, the addendum to the OCP was raised in an effort to, “formalize inclusion, cultural humility and connection as a fundamental basis for all future legislation, decisions and actions taken by the District of Sparwood.”
The matter was revisited in response to council’s previous decision not to support the motion at the meeting held on Oct. 6, along with what has been described by Bowen as “uneducated and uninformed comments about giving permission” made by one of the councillors.
Bowen said that the decision and comments made at the last meeting upset many Sparwoodian women, who make up roughly 50 per cent of the district’s population.
“What we are looking for first and foremost, is an apology to all of those women,” said Bowen.
“Even the women who are out of child-bearing age, because that is not the only reason people take contraceptives.”
Bowen furthered that though the letter of support is no longer useful, the SCAA – a Facebook group that has quickly grown to 216 members– has plans to lobby their elected official to ensure no-cost contraception continues to be fought for, and that having a letter of support from council would aid them in achieving that goal.
The District of Sparwood now joins neighbouring Fernie, and nearby Cranbrook and Kimberley in lobbying the provincial government for no-cost prescription contraception.