ESTEVAN - A new policy for the City of Estevan is to govern and provide consistent standards for requests for flag raisings and proclamations.
Estevan city council approved the document at a meeting earlier this month. It states that proclamations might be issued for special events and/or activities to recognize the effort and commitment of organizations within the City of Estevan that enhance the community.
"Proclamations can also be a valuable tool to educate and inform our citizens," the policy states.
Now all requests for proclamations will be made in writing to the city clerk's office at least three weeks before the day, week or month to be proclaimed. The city will not incur any expenses related to the advertising or promotion of proclamations, unless the proclamation is initiated by the City of Estevan.
Wording must be provided by the organization making the request. An individual or group must attend the council meeting in person so that council members have the opportunity to ask questions to the group. This is a departure from the current procedure, as often a provincial or national organization has sent a proclamation to city hall for the mayor to read during a council meeting.
Also, some organizations in the community have opted to have a proclamation signed in the mayor's office rather than in the council chambers.
For flags, organizations must provide and deliver it once it is approved to fly at city hall.
The policy also states that the flag raising or proclamation requests will not be approved if the organization or request involves a commercial enterprise, or if the organization is a political party or if the request is in support of a party.
Flags or organizations that might be considered controversial, contentious or divisive will not be flown.
Also, the application will be denied if the organization's undertaking, philosophy or request is contrary to city policies or bylaws; is in opposition to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; espouses hatred, violence, racism or is otherwise discriminator; is politically or religiously motivated; is controversial, contentious or divisive within the community; or is untruthful, inflammatory, obscene or libellous.
Coun. Shelly Veroba said this is a great policy because it gives people parameters over what is acceptable and what isn't.
"I just think it would give a lot more meaning to these proclamations if somebody from the group actually presented to council and explained, and then you gave your signature," said Veroba.
Coun. Kirsten Walliser noted the policy requires three weeks for processing, giving council time for vetting to ensure it meets the criteria.
"Maybe it's an organization we're not familiar with, that wouldn't in fact meet the political or religious affiliations that we're trying to avoid," she said.
Other communities in the province have been adopting similar documents.