After an anti-abortion banner, no more controversial signage to be hung on Kamloops streets | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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After an anti-abortion banner, no more controversial signage to be hung on Kamloops streets

A file photo showing an anti-abortion banner hanging in downtown Kamloops.
October 17, 2019 - 5:30 PM

The city of Kamloops has taken down what is likely the last controversial banner to be hung on city property.

The Kamloops Pro Life Association applied in 2018 for approval to hang two banners, and although the city decided to stop hanging any banners or flags from special interest groups in September of last year, the ones already approved were still allowed to go up.

Two anti-abortion banners were hung in the city, with one on Victoria Street downtown and the other on Tranquille Road on the North Shore, and both were removed this week.

Marvin Kwiatkowski, Kamloops' development, engineering, and sustainability director, said hanging the banners does not imply support, the city was just following a process

“We decided to pull back on our policy and not allow any more flags or banners,” Kwiatkowski says. “The reason these are up is they were in the queue before September 2018.”

Kwiatkowski says there are two more banners slated to hang on city property, one for the Kamloops Courthouse Gallery and another for KidSport, a nation-wide initiative that helps fund children’s sports. After those, it will be the end of any special interest banners hung in the city.

Kamloops mayor Ken Christian says it would have been unfair to take back the previous approval for the anti-abortion banner.

“Ultimately you would like to just have an opportunity for people to fly their banners but when people start to put up banners which are offensive then that becomes a problem. It can be anything to do with the abortion debate, it can be anything to do with sexual orientation, there’s just a whole myriad of things that are really inappropriate for the city to be flying,” Christian says.

The decision to stop flying banners and flags from special interest groups came about after a B.C. Court of Appeal case around anti-abortion advertisements on buses. Christian says the city council discussed how to move forward with banner approvals in a fair and legal manner, and decided to stop accepting applications to ensure there were no issues with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“In our case, we removed it altogether so we will not be flying flags nor banners of any shape or description any longer,” Christian says.

Complaints around the anti-abortion banner have been coming into city staff and some of the councillors, and Christian says the same is true when pride banners are hung. Christian says by banning banners, the city will not face any issues on what is approved and what is not.

“People have really polarized opinions on a lot of the social issues... these are issues that aren’t generally issues that relate to local government jurisdictions,” Christian says. “It doesn’t really make a lot of sense for us to get involved.”

The city of Kamloops used to fly pride flags in front of city hall but will no longer hang flags or banners from any special interest group on city-owned land.
The city of Kamloops used to fly pride flags in front of city hall but will no longer hang flags or banners from any special interest group on city-owned land.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / City of Kamloops - Municipal Government

Included in the ban are any banners for upcoming pride celebrations. Christian says no banners or flags will be hung on city property, although the decorated storefronts, parades, and private flags are free to fly. When asked if he or the councillors would still support the pride festivities, he said the choice is up to each individual member of the council.

“No flags on our flag poles, of course, but that does not negate there being an opportunity to do that elsewhere,” Christian says. “I’m quite sure (city council) would be involved, and that is an individual councillors decision.”

Christian says they will not likely look into changing their position on banners any time soon. He says banners will still be hung for holidays like Canada Day and to welcome new seasons, but notes the city will not approve any from an individual group.


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