Christopher Justice wants to know why the Municipality of North Cowichan doesn’t allow proclamations.
The North Cowichan councillor said the issue was raised at a council meeting earlier this month during a discussion around whether North Cowichan should fly the rainbow flag at its municipal hall during the month of June, which is recognized as Pride Month.
Council gave the green light to flying the flag, with only one councillor opposed, but it was pointed out in the discussion that the municipality has a long-standing policy that doesn’t allow proclamations.
Justice announced at the council meeting on May 15 that he would make a notice of motion at council’s next meeting on June 5 to ask staff to prepare a report on North Cowichan’s proclamation policy.
“I wondered about the history of this policy in the municipality and discovered during my research that the no-proclamation policy dates back to 1998, but it’s only a three-sentence policy with no details or explanation of why it’s in place,” Justice said.
“Staff were also directed by council to prepare a report on establishing a flag policy for the municipality at that same meeting so I figured maybe we should take a look at this too.”
Justice said he’s not really attached to having proclamations in North Cowichan, but is interested in having staff take another look at it.
He said he wonders if the costs of allowing proclamations would outweigh the benefits.
“A number of communities, including Vancouver, Victoria, Duncan and Campbell River, have proclamations, and they do it largely because they help community groups get their message out to the public,” Justice said.
North Cowichan’s corporate officer Karen Robertson said she’s not sure why the municipality decided to ban proclamations in 1998, but guesses the reason likely had to do with the fact that if you allowed one proclamation, the municipality would have to allow all proclamations to be considered.
She pointed out a case just this week where the City of Nelson decided to repeal its community flag and banner policy and stop hanging banners from non-profit groups altogether.
Things came to a head in that community after a Nelson councillor pointed out to council that a banner of an anti-abortion group hung at city hall with an anti-abortion message violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.