There will be a lot less flag raisings by the City of Yorkton moving forward.
Following a unanimous decision by Yorkton Council at its regular meeting Monday there will no longer be a courtesy pole at City Hall Park for community groups wishing to fly their flags to mark special events.
“City Hall Park, located on the south side of City Hall, is the home to the City’s official flags. Flags flown include the Canadian, Saskatchewan and Yorkton flags, along with a courtesy flag pole that currently flies the Flag of the RCMP in between requests from community groups,” explained Darcy McLeod Director Community Development, Parks & Recreation at the meeting Monday.
McLeod said the long standing protocol came into question with a request made in 2016.
“At the May 30, 2016 regular Council meeting, Yorkton Tribal Council Chief Isabel O ’Soup, representing the six First Nations under Treaty 4, requested a flag raising to mark National Aboriginal Day on June 21, 2016 and further requested that it remain flying permanently at City Hall,” he said.
The following is from her letter to Council: “I believe it is my responsibility to honour my ancestors’ agreement made nearly a century and a half ago. In turn a flag raising ceremony would enkindle a sense of pride and demonstrate the respect between the different levels of government and First Nations people. It would also display the strength of diversity and togetherness in which this country was built.”
Council requested that administration bring back a report that manages requests for flag raisings on the courtesy pole.
In 2016, the City of Yorkton received eight requests for flag raisings on the courtesy flag pole located in City Hall Park, not including the requests to permanently fly both the Treaty 4 and the RCMP flags.
“Community organizations use flag raisings and proclamations as an opportunity to build awareness about their organization or their cause in the community. Further, a flag raising and/or proclamation shows the City’s support for the initiative as well. Typically, the flag raising includes a photo opportunity for the local media, which generates additional publicity. In order to obtain approval to fly their flag on the courtesy flag pole, the group must make a formal presentation/request to Council and obtain a resolution from Council,” said McLeod.
“There are other ways for Council to help organizations create awareness and show the City’s support other than a flag raising. The process could be similar to what currently exists, however rather than having a flag raising to create awareness and a photo opportunity, this could be provided at the Council meeting when the proclamation is made. Further a certificate could be provided for the Mayor to present as part of the photo opportunity. This would allow an opportunity to create awareness as well as provide the City with an opportunity to show its support. The result is that the courtesy flag could be freed up to address one of the permanent flag flying requests.”
In terms of the RCMP flag McLeod explained, the current flag location in City Hall Park is not a permanent solution given the RCMP flag is lowered and stored when that flag pole is used as a courtesy flag pole. It also is not connected to the RCMP detachment on the other side of city hall but is adjacent to City Hall/RCMP detachment. Further, when the RCMP lower their flag to half mast, the other flags may not be lowered creating confusion. A solution to this is to provide a permanent flag pole dedicated to the RCMP located immediately connected to the RCMP Detachment.
The Treaty 4 flag is its own issue, said McLeod.
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation healing process, Treaty flags are now being permanently flown at City Hall locations across Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert), with other communities moving in this same direction, he explained.
According to the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission asks Canadians to acknowledge and understand our collective past as a way to move us toward a stronger and healthier future, with “relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect.”
“Administration believes that permanently flying the Treaty 4 Flag would not only be a sign of mutual recognition and respect but also formerly recognize a level of government that is recognized across Saskatchewan and across the country. Given the discussion above regarding the purpose of flag raisings, the courtesy flag pole designation could be removed in favour of permanently flying the Treaty 4 flag. Flag raising could be replaced by an enhanced proclamation process to provide the recognition of community organizations as well as to generate public awareness for the organization,” he said.
McLeod said administration looked at several options including;
*Adding a fifth flag pole would allow the permanent flying of both flags but eliminate the courtesy flag pole although it would create an awkward symmetry to this place of history and respect. This one new flag pole has an estimated cost of $4,500.00.
*A 6th flag pole could also be considered to balance it out and save the courtesy flag pole, but this would add costs to the project. The RCMP flag would still be separated from the detachment and possible confusion could be created as their flag protocol could be different than the City’s. This has an estimated cost of $9,000.00
*In addition to the 5th flag pole in City Hall Park, which creates an awkward symmetry, a 6th flag pole could be installed in front of the RCMP detachment to accommodate the permanent flying of their flag. This has an estimated cost of $9,000.00
*Remove the courtesy flag pole in favour of permanently flying the Treaty 4 flag, install a new flag pole in front of the RCMP detachment and replace the flag raisings with an enhanced proclamation process involving the presentation of a physical proclamation as well as offering a photo opportunity at the Council meeting when the proclamation is made. This has an estimated cost $4,500.00
In the end the recommendation made to Council, and approved was a multi-faceted one, including;
*That the courtesy flag pole be re-designated to permanently fly the Treaty 4 flag, and
*That a new flag pole be installed in front of the RCMP detachment to permanently fly the RCMP flag, and
*That flag raisings be replaced with an enhanced proclamation process including the presentation of a physical proclamation as well as offering a photo opportunity at the Council meeting when the proclamation is made.