"The NPA majority on Park Board is dismissing Vancouver’s Ethical Purchasing Policy (EPP) by giving staff permission to by-pass EPP and erasing any obligation for Park staff to provide ongoing open and transparent progress reports to the Park Board" said COPE Park Commissioner Loretta Woodcock.
In a report going to the Vancouver Park Board’s June 12, 2006 meeting, General Manager Susan Mundick is recommending "that the EPP be used in all applicable contracts, but that it not be the overwhelming factor in the award." She also recommends that in some contracts" the Board will reserve the right to bypass the EPP and use the criteria of best value to the Board in awarding contracts."
The recommendations appear to contradict existing City policy which states that "it is a requirement that all City suppliers and their subcontractors and suppliers follow this (EPP) code."
In 2005 the former COPE City Council approved the Ethical Purchasing Policy that the Park Board began to implement in a phase-in approach on purchases of apparel and food items such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and sugar. Vancouver adopted EPP to ensure that working conditions and human rights of workers in developing countries who produce products purchased by the city are respected.
The Park Board report notes there has been an overall cost savings after implementation of EPP that included savings of $3500 for garments purchases. Over time, according to the report, EPP implementation would see product costs going down as has been the case with the purchase of recycled paper.
When the EPP policy was adopted, City Council supplemented the Park Board budget with $246,000 for implementation. This April, a motion by NPA Councillor Peter Ladner cut that funding. Without the financial support, the Park Board is now faced with cutting its commitment to EPP.
"The Park Board processes over 450 purchase orders per month and administers over 350 contracts annually that includes a focus on supporting local businesses," said Woodcock. "The Park Board can now choose to lead by example by demanding a choice of EPP products alongside traditional items. However it appears that the NPA is choosing to roll back all the hard work Park Board staff and Vancouver citizens have done in bringing forward sustainability and ethics in the products it purchases".