After some deliberation, Wellesley council members voted to defer a detailed township municipal flag policy at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, August 31. There is currently no formal policy related to the flying of flags at township facilities.
A report brought forward by Lindsay Raftis, interim administrative assistant and deputy clerk, set out policies and procedures related to flying flags at half-mast and ensured flags are flown, displayed, and disposed of in a consistent, appropriate manner.
According to the policy, any flags that became tattered and unusable would be destroyed “in a dignified way” by burning them privately.
Flags on municipal flag poles would be lowered at half-mast as a symbol of mourning on the following days: April 28, June 23, second Sunday in September, last Sunday in September, November 11, and December 6. The policy also outlines flag locations, other occasions that flags will be flown at half-mast,
The only authorized flags include the Canadian flag, provincial flag, and township of Wellesley flag. Councillor Peter van der Maas voiced opposition to this part of the report.
“The protocol restricts the flying of flags to only the township flag and the Canadian flag, but I find that a little too exclusive,” said Cr. van der Maas. “There may be occasions during which we will be advised to show our support by flying other flags. I can think of the pride flag as an example, or recognition of our Indigenous population as another one.”
He suggested expanding what type of flags could be permitted or putting up a second flag pole. Mayor Joe Nowak agreed and said that “it was too exclusive.”
“If we open it up too much, how do we determine who is eligible and who isn’t? Who makes that decision?” asked Councillor Shelley Wagner.
Chief Administrative Officer Rik Louwagie suggested approving requests on an individual basis. Any other requests to fly a flag other than outlined in the policy would be brought to the council for a vote. Then, councillors would determine what flags would be flown, and for what period of time.
Cr. Herb Neher said, “I agree with Shelley on this. I think we have to be very careful. Once you say yes to someone, and no to the other, we put ourselves in a hornet’s nest.”
Mayor Nowak said these issues would be addressed in the future staff report, and council voted unanimously to defer the decision.