Proposed City of Vernon flag-raising policy sent back for reworking

Flag policy needs work

A proposed flag policy needs more work, Vernon city councillors decided on Monday.

The policy would set rules for flying the flags of various community groups at City Hall.

The city does not currently have a formal policy or guidelines.

Councillors were particularly concerned that flying a group’s flag could be interpreted as an endorsement or a proclamation. The city no longer issues proclamations.

Some councillors thought a reference only to non-profit groups was too restrictive.

City staffers responded that flying a group’s flag is considered a service and not an endorsement, but not all councillors were convinced by that argument.

“If you have this criteria by which you reject or approve the flying of a flag, then clearly you’re endorsing them. You can’t suck and blow at the same time,” said Coun. Brian Quiring. “This is a very slippery slope.”

“Every group’s going to ask now to fly the flag,” said Coun. Akbal Mund.

Coun. Brian Guy found an inconsistency in the policy, which referred at one point to flying a flag that’s in good condition, but later it said the flag should be in “excellent” condition.

“Having a flag policy is absolutely essential,” said Coun. Kari Gares.

The policy was sent back to city staff for revisions.

Dawn Tucker, a lead organizer of Vernon's first Pride Week in August and a council watchdog who ran for office in October, noted on the Vernon & Area Political Discussion Forum that the proposed flag policy would not have allowed the Pride flag to be raised.

"Vernon Pride was not a non-profit, and so it would have excluded our committee from getting our municipality to raise our flag had this policy been in place this year," Tucker wrote.

"Non-profits aren't the only ones making events or change occur. This is exclusionary."

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