2020 Accomplishments

The City of Vancouver works 24 hours every day of the year to support a safe and welcoming, vibrant and prosperous community.

City Council sets the vision for the community and adopts policies and a budget in support of that vision. The City Manager leads and manages City staff and departments in the delivery of a wide range of customer and resident-focused services—from fire and police services to summer playground programs—that support the safety and livability of this great city.

While it’s not practical to report every single accomplishment from 2020, the following represents a sample from this extraordinary year.

The City responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis in numerous ways:

  • Declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020, and issued emergency orders that expanded financial assistance to City utility customers struggling to pay their water/sewer bills, defended against residential foreclosures on private mortgages, protected small businesses from eviction, suspended on-street parking fees, required landlords wear personal protective equipment when entering rental units, and cancelled City-permitted events.
  • Opened a Safe Parking Zone in coordination with Vancouver Mall and C-TRAN, providing a safe location for homeless residents sheltering in their vehicles during the pandemic. The site provides portable restroom facilities, handwashing stations, garbage service, and access to other services.
  • Created the Street Eats Program, which through special permitting helped restaurants add outdoor seating. The program also provided an online tool for customers to find businesses with outdoor seating or curbside pickup.
  • Offered downtown and uptown businesses free, reserved curbside pickup parking spaces with signage.
  • Operated distance learning camps at the Firstenburg and Marshall community centers to support remote learning for elementary school-age children.
  • Partnered with Clark County to distribute more than $1 million in grants to small local businesses—with a focus on women- and minority-owned businesses.
  • Partnered with Mercy Corps Northwest to distribute $10,000 of personal protective equipment to more than 30 small businesses.
  • Waived business license surcharges to assist businesses heavily impacted by the economic recession –providing $5.5 million in direct relief to businesses.

The City initiated a variety of social justice actions:

  • City Council issued a statement acknowledging the existence of systemic racism and societal inequalities within our country and community and committed to taking action to try and correct it.
  • City Council hosted several online community listening sessions on systemic racism in Vancouver.
  • Invited residents to share their stories and ideas about racial justice on
  • Created a Community Task Force on Policing that will assist with the implementation of 84 recommendations included in a recent use-of-force study commissioned by the Vancouver Police Department and advise the City on establishing a police camera program to install body-worn and vehicle dash and in-car cameras.
  • Addressed the top 10 recommended immediate action items included in the recent use-of-force study, including sharing information with the public about the study and posting related data on the City’s website.
  • The Vancouver Police Department secured grants to fund and leverage support for key initiatives, including a new partnership that added full-time mental health professionals to assist officers with de-escalating crisis calls in the field.
  • City Attorney’s Office made equity-based changes to the way it prosecutes the crime of driving while license suspended in the third degree and provided a way for people diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder to have misdemeanor charges dismissed if they successfully complete a year-long treatment program.
  • City Council formed a community task force that developed a variety of options the City can consider to foster greater diversity on City Council. The task force considered changes to both how City Councilmembers are elected and opportunities for increasing community engagement and participation in City government.

Climate Action

The City moved forward on climate action, adopting a moratorium on the creation of new, or expansion of existing, large-scale fossil fuel facilities, and updating the greenhouse gas emissions inventory for City operations and the whole community for the first time in a decade. This set the scene for City Council to consider a range of climate action and carbon neutrality goals for the City and the community.

Water Station 1

The Department of Public Works added resiliency in community water delivery by completing construction of a new 4-million-gallon water reservoir at Water Station 1, which supplies about a quarter of the city’s drinking water.

The Heights District Plan

City Council adopted The Heights District Plan after a lengthy public engagement process, establishing a vision for redevelopment of a former commercial shopping mall into a transformative and vibrant mixed-use community in central Vancouver.

Park Upgrades

Vancouver Parks and Recreation redeveloped DuBois Park, completed upgrades at General Anderson, Edgewood and Hearthwood parks, and started construction on North Image Park.

Project Home Safe

Vancouver Fire Department’s Project Home Safe fire safety campaign reached more than 1,700 households using physically distanced and masked home visits to educate residents about simple ways to prevent common causes of fires.

Trees Planted

The Urban Forestry Program planted nearly 1,490 new large-caliper trees, surpassing its United Nations Trees in Cities Challenge pledge to plant 1,000 trees.

Community Engagement

The City hired a new Public Engagement Manager and offered residents a variety of online community engagement opportunities, including video open houses and presentations, surveys and more.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Grants

The City provided nearly $133,000 in Culture, Arts and Heritage grants to 11 organizations for projects including Ballet Foklorico’s Dia De Los Muertos celebration, Fort Vancouver-inspired “Nutcracker” costumes for Columbia Dance, an NAACP Vancouver black history art installation at the Vancouver Community Library, a film about Buffalo Soldiers in the Pacific Northwest, and several public art projects throughout the city.

Block 10 Sold

The City sold the long-undeveloped Block 10 property in downtown Vancouver (between Columbia and Washington streets and W. 8th and 9th streets) to Holland Partner Group and construction began on a six-story multi-use building featuring retail space, a parking garage, office space and apartment units.

Interactive Budget Review

The City furthered its commitment to transparency by creating an interactive budget review tool and an online dashboard so residents can monitor the City budget in real time.

LED Streetlights

The Department of Public Works upgraded nearly 12,000 streetlights to energy-efficient LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology, resulting in projected energy savings of $500,000 a year.

The Fourth Plain Commons

The City and the Vancouver Housing Authority designed and secured funding for development of the Fourth Plain Community Commons project, which will provide affordable housing above a community center and food entrepreneur incubator kitchen in the heart of the Fourth Plain International District.

$12 Million in Grants

The City secured nearly $12 million in grants in a range of services to support inventorying brownfields (properties where possible presence of hazardous substances stymie development), stormwater improvements, transportation projects, and fire and public safety education efforts, equipment and training.

Debt Refinanced

The City refinanced $7,045,000 in existing debt at a lower interest rate. The original debt was used to purchase City Hall, and the refinancing will save the City over $2.2 million in interest costs.