Letter from an Abbotsford resident to Council 

June 29, 2015

Hon Mayor Braun and councillors:

I am writing to express my concern and opposition to your decision to fly the Gay Pride flag over Abbotsford’s City Hall in July.  I feel this is totally inappropriate, particularly for our city, since it does not in any way reflect the identity, interests or wishes of the majority of the residents – in fact, quite the opposite.  Nothing should be officially undertaken by council that promotes anycausewhich is deemed offensive by a significant proportion of our population!  It is not only traditional Christians who feel this way… has anyone consulted the Sikh community as to how they feel about it?  And why allow something that is so divisive anyway?!  A flag on an official government building is an incredibly important symbol and it should be unifying. It also means that whatever it symbolizes RULES over that place!  Soldiers have given their lives to plant their country’s flag on an enemy’s capital.  We’re not talking about a roadside billboard, for goodness sake!

I realize that you felt “obliged” to accept this proposal because there was no official flag policy in place and some charitable organizations have been permitted to fly their flags in the past.  If so, that is a huge oversight which should have been rectified long ago!  Rather than immediately giving in to this inappropriate demand which I’m sure you knew would create an uproar in this community (and which many of you probably didn’t approve of yourselves!), why didn’t you instead postpone the decision, and do some research on what other cities have done, what the options are and what would be a wiser decision?  

For example, you could adopt a policy like Surrey’s – ie, NO “special interest” flags can be flown at city hall – only Canada’s, BC’s, and the city flag (except under special circumstances).  After all, the flag of Canada was adopted specifically so that it could represent ALL Canadians, without showing partiality to one group or another.  And if you want to give every group in the community a chance to put forward their logo and their cause, Kitchener, ON, has found a solution: only official government flags may be flown from city hall, but they also have 2 “community flagpoles” elsewhere, where civic groups who qualify under certain guidelines can hoist their flags for a week, in order to advertise special events that are of benefit to the community.  

That might be a better alternative, don’t you think?  So why have these options not been explored before making such a hasty, unpopular decision?  I think you should admit that you have been terribly amiss to NOT have a written, logical policy about which flags may be flown officially on our city hall and thank the Gay Pride leaders for drawing your attention to this oversight!  Retract your permission and establish a proper ruling – perhaps allowing a community flagpole (or 2) somewhere else if you will.