Vancouver, WA Community Mediation Services

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Vancouver, WA, US

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Type: Program

Status: Launched in 1992

Source File:


Community Mediation Services (CMS) offers Clark County residents an informal, private way to improve communications and resolve disagreements. Mediation is a voluntary process that helps you discuss difficult issues and develop your own solutions. Mediation is fast, flexible and free.

Our mediators are certified staff and volunteers from the community skilled in communication and conflict resolution. Mediators listen to your concerns and can help you understand your needs and explore options. Some situations are handled on the phone while others require face-to-face meetings.

The Better Together Award
The Better Together Award recognizes a Clark County individual and/or group who’s taken the risk and reached out to positively interact with others in the face of conflict or adversity. The awards were presented at a ceremony on Oct. 23.

Advantages of Mediation

Mediation sessions are usually scheduled within two weeks from the time of a request. Most mediation sessions last between a few hours and a day, depending on the type of case. In contrast, lawsuits often take many months to resolve.

Mediation Services are offered at no cost to residents of Clark County.

In mediation, you tailor your own solution to the dispute according to your needs. If you do not think a settlement proposal is fair, you don’t have to agree to it.

In mediation, you can raise any issues related to your dispute that you believe are important. For example, in neighborhood mediation, neighbors could discuss issues concerning their children playing together as well as the boundary and fence.

Mediation sessions are private – so no one even needs to know that you have a dispute in the first place. Everything said in mediation is confidential and with very few exceptions, cannot legally be revealed outside the mediation.

Mediation is successful in over 85% of cases.

Less Stressful
For many people, going to court is scary. Mediation, by contrast, is informal emphasizing conversation and understanding. Any solution must be agreed to by both parties.

Why mediate? Consider the following:


  • Parties help create solutions
  • Informal
  • Win/win
  • Quick
  • Cooperative
  • Voluntary
  • Builds relationships

Formal Systems:

  • Someone else decides
  • Formal
  • Win/lose
  • Drawn out
  • Adversarial
  • Enforced
  • Can damage relationships

The idea for neighborhood mediation in the city of Vancouver came from a presentation at the 1991 Neighborhoods Conference. Staff and citizen efforts resulted in a successful proposal to city government. Vancouver Neighborhood Mediation was authorized in October, 1992 under RCW 7.75 by the Vancouver City Council.

The Dispute Resolution Center of Clark County (Clark DRC) was the first Washington DRC operated by a county government. Clark DRC was created by a resolution from the Board of County Commissioners for Clark County on February 28, 1995. The program began to offer services to the public on May 1, 1995 as a program of the Department of Community Development.

Community Mediation combines the mediation programs of the City of Vancouver and Clark County into one city-based entity serving all of Clark County. The merger of the Dispute Resolution Center of Clark County and Vancouver Neighborhood Mediation became effective on January 1, 1997. This successful fusion of services was conducted in order to: optimize the allocation of mediation resources, combine staff knowledge and skills, reduce client confusion, enhance the influence of the local mediation effort and save money.

How does mediation work?

We listen to your concerns.
When you find yourself in a conflict, you can call Community Mediation Services, 619-1140, to talk with a mediator. The mediator asks about your situation, about your concerns and about the other person(s). As a neutral "third party," the mediator helps you understand your interests and your options. We can send you information on solving conflicts. You may decide that you can work on a solution yourself.

We can contact the other side.
If the problem seems too big, or you want more assistance we will offer to call the other side, this is only done with your permission. The mediator listens to his or her perspective and briefly explains your view. Through the mediator’s conversations with you and the other person, your situation may be settled over the telephone.

A safe, honest meeting can be arranged.
If the situation requires closer attention, the mediator can schedule a convenient time and place for you, the other person(s) and two mediators. During the session, you and the other person(s) are given an opportunity to explain what happened , how you were affected and what is important to you, in order to clarify the situation and resolve things. The mediators do not take sides or make decisions. They encourage you to do some creative problem solving, look at options and come to a joint agreement. Usually the settlement is written down and you get a copy. More that eight out of ten cases reach an agreement.