Kitchener’s embarrassing and absolutely unnecessary flag flap aint over yet.
The flap resulted from an outdated protocol that governs what flag is flown on any of the eight large and six small flagpoles located outside our city hall.
During the recent winter Olympics in Sochi, taxpayers asked that Kitchener fly the rainbow flag in civic square to show support for gay athletes and protest Russia’s discriminatory anti-gay laws.
Council should have quietly allowed an exemption to our policy. Instead, while at least 25 other Canadian municipalities responded generously by flying the rainbow flag in front of their city halls, Kitchener councillors ran and hid behind red-tape protocol. They then reluctantly agreed to erect a sad-looking rainbow flag in the Rotunda and display the rainbow image at night on the Cube.
Councillors then dragged their collective butts and refused to debate the issue until the Olympics ended. Then, when the subject was finally discussed this week, they watered down my simple proposal to have staff review the flag protocol and designate a community flagpole at city hall.
Instead, they agreed to a wimpy and disappointing amendment from fellow Coun. Berry Vrbanovic to have staff examine the possibility of flying community flags in civic square or at “another appropriately located” flagpole. Vrbanovic suggested that one such “highly visible” flagpole where a community flag could fly might be located at Rockway Gardens on the outskirts of Kitchener.
Unlike the rest of council, I voted against his amendment because I’m convinced, when a requested report comes back to council in May, it will do little to have the City of Kitchener and all it represents clearly display a desire to portray itself as a municipality that promotes and supports inclusiveness by flying the rainbow flag outside city hall.
I also doubt councillors will take any meaningful action to change our flag protocol and reverse the negative impact it has on charitable causes, community groups and associations.