Proposed flag policy lowered by current council to be raised by next council
An official document detailing flag usage at City Hall will have to wait for the next elected city council as the current council defeated the proposed flag policy.
The policy was deemed to be too rigid and did not allow community flags — or a fourth community flagpole — and some councilors felt the issue was too contentious to pass now without a deeper discussion and consideration.
The motion to adopt the flag policy as it came to council earlier this month was defeated.
Coun. Anna Purcell felt the policy could be legislated if it were not for the fourth procedure: that the city would not consider flag raising or lowering for any community group at City Hall and would not engage in any promotions on behalf of any community group.
“If we just took that line out we could adopt the policy,” she said.
However, the policy had to be defeated in its entirety, and a subsequent motion was made to refer it back to staff
“It will give us time to look at other municipalities and see what they are doing,” Purcell added.
“What about community groups that want to fly a flag in the next six weeks?” asked Coun. Bob Adams after the policy passed.
“They come to us with an ask,” said Mayor Deb Kozak.
Council is attempting to establish a new policy regarding community flags flying outside of City Hall but there have been various community groups expressing unease over the city’s desire to create a policy regarding flags flown on municipal soil.
Several groups felt they would be losing the right to fly their flags on the eve of upcoming events, such as the Kootenay Gay Pride Week and the Métis Nation.
The City of Nelson has no formal guidelines for the flying of the municipal, provincial, and national flags in front of City Hall, although it has flagpoles in front of City Hall where the municipal, provincial, and federal flags are flown.
The policy provided direction for displaying and half-masting flags as well as the use of the flagpoles by community groups.
City corporate officer Frances Long said the proposed policy was crafted in a similar fashion to most other B.C. communities where they had a separate pole for flying community flags. Nelson did not have a separate pole and would historically add a community flag underneath the municipal one during the week of the event.
But with the policy in hand it would be up to council to consider allocating funds for constructing a separate community pole in the next budget, said Long.
“The standard in the province is not to have community flags fly on the municipal flag poles,” said Long.
City manager Kevin Cormack said the city would still approve other flags flying on the poles in front of City Hall on a case-by-case perspective.
In the end the flag policy was again referred back to city staff — as was the exploration of additional poles in front of City Hall — for more work on wording.
Specific elements of the flag policy were taken from the federal government’s National Flag Etiquette and the province of British Columbia’s flag protocol from the Office of Protocol. The policy provides a “comprehensive and well-informed approach” to flag protocol for the city.
Waving the flag
1. There are three flagpoles in front of City Hall. These three flagpoles permanently fly the following flags:
- The flag of Canada;
- The flag of the Province of British Columbia; and
- The flag of the City of Nelson.
2. The flag of Canada is the middle and highest flagpole. The flags of the province and the city are the same height, but slightly lower than the flag of Canada.
3. These flags fly throughout the day and night.
4. The City of Nelson will not consider flag raising or lowering for any community group at City Hall and will not engage in any promotions on behalf of any community group.
— Source: City of Nelson