The Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has updated its flag policy.
“It was found that the old policy was restrictive in its approach and some of the directives were impossible for staff to follow according to its terms and conditions,” Mayor Darlene Norman explained during an interview.
She said that outdated and unnecessary language have been removed, and the policy has been made easier to understand.
The flag policy was RQM’s first policy to be addressed by its recently formed Diversity and Inclusion Action Team, whose members made recommendations to staff which were then incorporated into a new policy.
“It has been updated with more inclusive and supportive language,” said Norman.
One of the more significant updates is that there is no longer a requirement for traditional flag flying requests to be applied for annually. As well, there are additional times when special-purpose flags are to be flown and when flags are to be lowered to half-mast.
Flags will now be flown annually in recognition of various issues and events, including: February, African Heritage Month; April, National Volunteer Week; May 17, International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia; June 21, National Aboriginal Day; July, Pride; August 1, Emancipation Day; August 15, National Acadian Day; September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation; October, Mi’kmaq History Month; November, Veteran’s Week.
The dates for all RQM flags to be flown at half-mast are April 18-19, Portapique shootings; April 28,Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace; September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation; November 11, Remembrance Day; December 6, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Flags can be flown for a maximum of two weeks. Requests relating to anything other than those listed here are required to be submitted at least four weeks in advance.
Discussing the issue at their Oct. 12 council meeting, some councillors questioned whether the four-week policy should be strictly enforced.
“If somebody forgets we will do our best to accommodate them. We are humans,” responded Norman. “But we really do encourage that four-week notice simply because a group may have to purchase their flag and we need to make sure it doesn’t conflict with the wishes of another group.”
New location for special purpose flags
Formerly flown near the waterfront in Liverpool, special purpose flags will now be flown in front of the Town Hall Arts & Culture Centre.
The change of venue is for “a variety of reasons,” according to the mayor, who said “high visibility was the number one reason.
“If you really want to show you’re celebrating a special group or a special date, or occasion, then flying it on Main street gives these a lot more recognition,” said Norman.
Moreover, it was noted that the waterfront flagpole had been located in a hazardous position in the parking lot and made for some difficulty if a special ceremony was held for the raising of a new flag. Flags there also encountered high winds which shortened their lifespan.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin