City council would rather not be the keepers of a courtesy pole.
At Monday’s meeting of the city’s development and planning services committee, council discussed whether a ‘courtesy flag pole’ would be erected at Marine Park to allow various community groups or causes to fly their flags when requested.
Carl Bannister, the city’s chief administrative officer, brought up the item at the request of Mayor Nancy Cooper, who was absent.
He said staff, based on council’s previous discussions and budget planning, are looking at installing three poles at Marine Park in the spring which would display the city, provincial and federal flags – just as the poles at city hall do.
However, he said, there have been mixed messages from council regarding courtesy flags, and staff won’t be proceeding without direction from them.
“Staff is hesitant to pursue such a policy (regarding a courtesy pole); I’ve seen how these things unfold in other communities,” Bannister said, predicting that a courtesy pole would soon become a source of controversy.
Coun. Alan Harrison noted it was his idea to replace the flags at Marine Park, but only with new ones. He said he is not in support of a courtesy pole, noting that if people feel strongly about something and wish to fly a flag, they can do so in front of their homes or from their car.
“But I don’t think it’s the city’s job.”
All councillors agreed the city should proceed with what’s been the standard at Marine Park, one pole with a city flag, one with a provincial flag and one with a federal flag – and no courtesy pole or courtesy flags.
Coun. Marg Kentel said she thinks council should have a policy on courtesy flags.
“How do we avert people from wanting to have the city flag replaced with their own? I’m thinking we need some kind of policy. I certainly don’t want to get into debates as to whose flag should fly.”
Coun. Ken Jamieson suggested that, if need be, a policy could be discussed at a later date.
Although there’s not normally a discussion period at the end of the planning meeting, acting mayor Debbie Cannon allowed a resident to ask a question.
Win Gittins used the opportunity to tout the Shuswap Welsh Society and requested that it be permitted to fly the Welsh flag on one day per year.
Although he’s lived in Canada for more than 50 years, he said the world is divided into those who are Welsh and those who would like to be Welsh.
“I would expect a council in the 21st century to bring a bit of colour into the community… We’re a fledgling group trying to attract people who are forgotten. We don’t intend to be a stone in council’s shoe.”
He said other cities, such as Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops, have a flag policy.