The rainbow pride flag was raised at Abbotsford city hall on Monday afternoon – but it may be the last time, after council adopted a policy at a Monday meeting outlining what flags can be raised in the future.
A group of about 40 people waited outside Abbotsford city hall and clapped as Mayor Henry Braun raised the flag at about 12:30 p.m.
A request had come to council in June, asking that the city fly the rainbow pride flag from July 13 to 20, to coincide with a pride celebration that will run July 17 to 19 at Trethewey House.
The events are organized by Out in the Valley, a society that organizes social events for the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, and the Fraser Valley Youth Society (FVYS), a non-profit charitable organization that provides services for LGBTQ+ and allied youth.
The decision met with backlash from some community members, who opposed council’s decision to let the flag fly.
Samantha Williams, director of operations with FVYS, said at the flag-raising that despite some opposition, they have received a lot of support from around the community.
She added that FVYS has had a great relationship with the city while planning pride events over the last three years.
“I think the city is sending a message that they’re supporting everyone in their community,” she said.
When council made the decision, Braun noted that the city had no policy on what flags can fly at city hall, but one was about 80 per cent developed by staff.
At the 3 p.m. executive meeting on Monday, council approved the policy, which sets out criteria for which flags will be raised on the city hall flagpoles in the future. These include the flag of the United Nations; the flag of a country recognized by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, when an official representative is visiting; a flag of an official sister city; and any flag required to be flown by a contract.
The decision precluded a number of requests that came to council on Monday evening, calling for the flying of flags for a number of other interest groups.