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Racist clause remains on land title for British Properties home

May 15, 2022

A West Vancouver woman says she was infuriated to find racist language still exists on her home ownership documents, two years after the district vowed to take action to strike out these “discriminating covenants.”

“I was very angry. I wanted to get the awareness out that this is still happening,” said Michele Tung. “My goal is to get rid of these covenants, because I don’t want to have to tell my children’s children that I didn’t do anything about it.”

Even though these offensive clauses were made unenforceable in 1978, they are upsetting when they are still part of official documents attached to residents’ homes. Tung’s covenant, created in 1955 for her land in the British Properties, said people of “African or Asiatic” descent could not reside there — unless they were servants.

Tung’s friend Stembile Chibebe, who is of African descent, does not have this offensive clause in the documents for her West Vancouver home, but would like to see the wording removed from all land titles before her two school-aged children are old enough to buy property.

“You wonder why we are keeping this language? This should have been taken off a long time ago,” Chibebe said.

Tung created a petition, signed so far by about 800 people, asking for these covenants to be removed.

She discovered the racist language after she said West Vancouver staff asked her sub-contractor for a copy of a restrictive covenant that is notated on the front of her land title document, alongside three right-of-way notices. Providing the covenant was necessary, her sub-contractor was told, to avoid delay in getting an additional permit for a house she and her husband are building. The Land Title and Survey Authority (LTSA) in New Westminster holds these documents.

This issue was on the radar of West Vancouver Coun. Marcus Wong in January 2020, when he introduced a motion that staff work with the LTSA to determine the “process, resources and time” required to strike racist language from land title documents. Although the motion passed unanimously, action has been delayed by the pandemic, Wong said.

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