Powassan Councillor Leo Patey (pictured in the blue shirt) will oversee the creation of a municipal flag policy after several residents objected to the Canadian flag being replaced by the Pride flag during June. Rocco Frangione/Local Journalism Initiative Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

It hasn’t taken town council in the Municipality of Powassan long to determine it needs a flag policy after several residents objected to a council decision to fly the Pride flag at the 250 Clark town hall municipal building during June.

The local library made the Pride flag request at the May 16th council meeting prompting a variety of objections from about a half dozen residents in the council chambers.

Powassan and District Union Public Library CEO Marie Rosset later told the Nugget that despite the objections, the library stood by its decision to ask to have the Pride flag flown at 250 Clark because the library is an all inclusive organization that welcomes everyone and doesn’t discriminate..

At the June 6th council meeting, Councilor Leo Patey told his council colleagues that he’s had quite a few conversations with community residents following the flag controversy and a common theme developed.

Patey said no matter who he talked to, everyone agreed that the Canadian flag should “never come down” or lowered unless it was for a ceremonial observation like flying the flag at half mast to honour fallen police officers.

“If council is still in favour of raising other flags, I suggest council erect a second flag pole immediately,” Patey said

Patey also suggested the municipality develop a flag policy that was free of discrimination.

Councillor Randy Hall agreed with Patey and said he also was contacted by many residents who were firm on one point.

“People don’t want any other flag flying with the Canadian flag and I’m in full agreement,” Hall said.

Hall said if the number of requests to the municipality begin to increase year after year “we have no choice but to at least put up another flag pole”.

“And during the period when that (second) pole is empty, we can fly the provincial flag,” Hall said. “We want to make sure we are inclusive, which I believe we have always been.  But this is a situation we have to react to.”

It was Hall who first suggested the municipality consider putting up a second flag pole at the May 16th council meeting.

Mayor Peter McIsaac said while he agreed with the comments the councillors were making, he thought it best to have staff develop a policy before a second flag pole goes up. McIsaac said he too received a number of phone calls, correspondence and had some face-to-face conversations with residents on the matter. McIsaac said the issue for the municipality is the existing pole can only fly one flag at a time which explains why the Canadian flag came off the pole so that the Pride flag could be raised.

McIsaac said the municipality did not get rid of the Canadian flag adding it flies “on every lamppost on Main Street and every one of our buildings”.

“It’s not like we’ve thrown out the Canadian flag,” he added.

McIsaac stood by the council decision to raise the Pride flag saying it was the right decision and the Mayor further said he was “proud of the council decision” from the previous meeting. McIsaac said the policy that’s eventually developed “should be inclusive and respectful”. He also said until a policy is in place, the council will not consider any future requests to fly other flags.

At the May 16th meeting, the Pride flag objectors said they would be back in the future to ask council to raise the flags of their specific interest groups.

McIsaac asked Councillor Patey to oversee the development of the flag policy.

There was no timeline given to staff to develop the policy but the hope is one can be created over a reasonable length of time.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

Original Published on Jun 13, 2023 at 05:07

This item reprinted with permission from   North Bay Nugget   North Bay, Ontario
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