Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville has approved a revision to its municipal flag policy and authorized the purchase and installation of a community flagpole at Memorial Park.
The town’s Leisure and Community Services staff and the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group both agreed that the revised policy and community flagpole would promote diversity and inclusion in the community while enhancing public awareness.
The three poles on the front lawn of the town hall display flags as per the previous policy, with the Canadian flag in the centre with the Ontario provincial flag to the left and the town’s municipal flag to the right. The policy also outlined procedures and protocols for the raising, displaying and half-masting flags, but did not address the display of community flags. Exceptions include a council resolution in 2018 to authorize raising the pride flag for June of each year and the more recent flying of the Ukrainian flag after a council resolution earlier this year.
As stated by Councillor Hugo Kroon, an updated municipal flag policy would “take the challenge away from what we do with municipal flags in front of (town hall).”
The updated policy now includes protocols, procedures and responsibilities for displaying flags on the designated community flagpole, along with clear guidelines for permitted flags and the length of the display.
Examples of community or alternate flags may include United Way of York Region, Canadian Red Cross, Olympic Torch Relay, Community Living, Franco-Ontario, D-Day Ceremony, Scouts Canada, the rainbow flag for Pride Month, and flags of foreign nations recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All approvals will be subject to the principles of the Human Rights Code Amendment Act 2006, and any request not considered aligned with the municipality’s core values will not be accepted, including those inciting hatred or deemed discriminatory.
The proposed location for the community flagpole is in Memorial Park, near the Whitchurch-Stouffville Leisure Centre. The town hall was considered a possible location for the flagpole but was deemed unsuitable due to the limited visibility and space. The area surrounding the Leisure Centre allows ample exposure and room for flag-raising ceremonies while offering timely on-site staff support. The estimated cost of the purchase and installation of a community flagpole is $5,000-$6,000.
Applications for community or alternate flag requests will be made available on the town’s website and managed by the Leisure and Community Services department. A date for the flagpole installation is yet to be determined, but council agreed that installation should occur as soon as possible.
Memorial Park and the Whitchurch-Stouffville Leisure Centre are located at 2 Park Drive.
Photo: The proposed location for the community flagpole is in Memorial Park, near the Whitchurch-Stouffville Leisure Centre.