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Editorial: The province must step in and tackle racist land covenants

It makes no sense for one local government to solve a problem it did not create, while allowing the issue to fester everywhere else.

It’s Asian Heritage Month in B.C., and we bring you a story about a particularly shameful piece of our own Asian heritage on the North Shore – covenants on land titles that forbade people of colour from buying homes here.

The covenants are of no legal effect anymore but, as we learned from West Vancouver resident Michele Tung this week, they deal a tremendous blow to the psyche anyone who has to read in their land title that they are unwelcome in their own home.

In 2020, at the request of Coun. Marcus Wong, West Vancouver began researching ways to seek out and have such covenants struck. After a long wait – too long – that report is due at the end of this month.

While we don’t know exactly what actions will be suggested, we do know West Vancouver will ask the provincial government to lead the response on discriminatory covenants, not just here, but all over B.C. We fully agree with this. It makes no sense for one local government to solve a problem it did not create, while allowing the issue to fester everywhere else.

A lot has happened in recent years to raise public consciousness about the human cost of white supremacy. The province has launched a series of initiatives aimed at confronting and eliminating racism, both overt and systemic. The racist abuse Tung has endured just for speaking up about the issue is clear evidence that those and other actions are badly needed.

Properly identifying and eliminating discriminatory covenants, while educating the public about their use, must be the next step.