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Mission council turns down motion for Pride flag to fly at city hall

Councillors concerned over policy being ‘manipulated’ into flying problematic symbols
Coun. Ken Herar shows off the Pride Progress Flag at council on June 6. His motion was defeated 6-1. Screenshot from Mission council.

Pride may be coming to the City of Mission, but the rainbow flag won’t fly at city hall – at least not until council has strengthened the policy over what symbols exactly can fly.

Fraser Valley Youth Society (FVYS) sent a letter to the city requesting the Progress Pride Flag to be hoisted at Mission City Hall and Heritage Park From July 9 to 16. FVYS is celebrating its 10th annual event at the park on July 16.

Coun. Ken Herar then brought forward an official motion to council on June 6.

“If we’re asking that very question, therein lies the problem,” Herar said. “The progress pride flag is a unique and universal symbol of basic human rights and acceptance.”

But Mayor Paul Horn, followed by other councillors, were wary. They all stated they support inclusion and diversity, but Horn said he was concerned about how a one-off decision could force them to fly a symbol they don’t agree with.

“Let me be crystal clear about the concern I have here … this can backfire if we don’t do it carefully,” Horn said. “It opens the door – if we don’t do it judiciously and carefully – for somebody to come forward and ask us to fly a flag for something that is not of broad support, for example, things like white supremacy.”

Only one other flag has been flown at city hall apart from the federal and provincial flags – the Legion Poppy Flag – and it has its own separate policy, said Chief Administrative Officer Mike Younie.

Horn said council should have looked at strengthening the flag policy when it was revised approximately a month ago. He said that it needs to be referred back to staff so the city can fly the pride flag in the future, without risking other groups manipulating the policy for “things that are not democratic.”

“These types of decisions do not get done well when they’re one-offs,” Horn said. “(The policy) deserves to have been thought about carefully … I’m very, very leery of it without properly looking at our policy.”

He added there are other ways to show support this year without jeopardizing the rules around flag flying; they’ve already proclaimed the week Fraser Valley Pride Week and they’ve sanctioned a beer garden. The Progress Pride Flag also will be on display within the Mission Leisure Centre.

Herar said he was not concerned about any manipulation, and if other flags were warranted and worthy, they should also be considered.

“Flying the flag is not about politics. It’s about people helping people,” he said.

Coun. Mark Davies, though agreeing with Horn, said they should move with urgency on revising the flag policy to show FVYS they are committed to the event in the future.

“We can’t let this linger,” Davies said. “I want this to be successful and I want FVYS to feel that they’ve been successful with the City Mission.”

Herar’s motion was defeated by a vote of 6-1.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Pride event comes to Mission after dispute with City of Abbotsford


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