By Chad Ingram
Published Feb. 16 2017
Minden Hills council is considering the creation of a policy for the flying of flags and their lowering to half-mast at municipal properties.
Councillors received a report and draft policy from environmental and property operations manager Ivan Ingram during a Feb. 9 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Minden Hills occasionally receives requests for flags of various organizations to be flown outside the municipal office on Milne Street.
“We don’t have any protocol for that as such” Ingram told councillors.
Council has traditionally granted requests from organizations asking that flags be flown outside the township office typically for a period of one week.
A Terry Fox flag flies each year for example and last year the pride flag was flown outside the Minden Hills office for the first time.
The draft policy requires that organizations make a request to the township a minimum of eight weeks before the date on which they’d like their flag to fly. It gives council the authority to decide which flags will be flown.
Many municipalities have policies governing when township flags will be flown at half-mast.
The draft policy suggested the half-masting of township flags upon the death of a member of the royal family; the governor general; the prime minister; a former governor general; a former prime minister; a federal cabinet minister; a lieutenant governor; the premier or other provincial dignitary; an MP or MPP; Minden Hills councillors or staff members; a member of Haliburton County council; or a police officer firefighter or paramedic killed in the line of duty.
It’s recommended the flags fly at half-mast for three days.
“We had a staff member die in December” Ingram said of a roads department employee who passed away this winter adding there was some issue over whether the township flags should be flown at half-mast following his death.
Councillors seem to agree that in cases of sudden tragedies it would be best to leave the decision to lower flags to half-mast up to the clerk.
“As much as possible I’d like to see the subjective element removed from it” said Reeve Brent Devolin. “It’s a very delicate situation to have to make the decision.”
Some townships also fly their flags at half-mast on certain days of the year – Workers’Mourning Day National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women etc.
“These are considerations not everybody does it” Ingram said.
Some municipal sites such as the township office and community centre have two flag poles while others such as the Village Green and Lochlin hall have one.
As Ingram explained in cases where there is just one flag pole the Canadian flag is always flown.
At the Minden Hills township office the municipal flag flies alongside the national one. It is the municipal flag that is taken down when organizational flags are flown.
With one flag per pole permitted to fly Ingram said council may want to consider the purchase of an additional flag pole at the office.
Ward 3 Councillor Jean Neville said there had been a request for a flag pole to be purchased for the Irondale Community Centre.
With costs ranging between about $1500 and $2000 per pole Ingram suggested that if council was interested in purchasing new poles it wait and build those costs into next year’s budget.
“They’re not cheap and it’s probably cheaper to buy in bulk” he said.
When a flag becomes unfit for flying legislation demands that it be disposed of by burning.