Ratepayers who wonder how and why Kneehill County raises and lowers its municipal flag will have to wonder no longer.
Councillors approved an official flag protocol policy at their June 9 regular meeting.
The new policy was presented by county Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Haugen, who noted the new policy was part of a regular review rotation of all policies, and that there was no burning urgency to looking at this policy at this time.
However, he noted since the agenda was a bit light this week it was a good time to introduce it.
“The Flag Protocol Policy is a brand new policy to Kneehill County,” stated Haugen’s report to council.
“This policy was created primarily to establish a clearer direction of when Kneehill County’s flags should be flown at half-mast and to ensure the use of Kneehill County’s flag poles are exercised in a consistent and appropriate manner.”
Haugen stated some official guidelines were used to develop the policy.
“The policy is a general guideline in accordance with the Prime Minister’s Office through Canadian Heritage and Alberta’s Premier’s Office through the Alberta Protocol Office,” he stated.
The policy is similar to other levels of government’s rules, and include a rule that allows the flag to be flown at night.
“Reeve and CAO still have authority to lower flags to half-mast at their discretion. It doesn’t need a council motion,” stated Haugen.
“The policy states that the flags may be flown at night. This is due to the fact, especially during the summer months, it is difficult for staff members to come in at sunrise and take down at sunset.
According to the Government of Canada, flags can be flown at night as long as they are not lit.
“The policy also gives the CAO the responsibility to designate the responsibility to half-mast to a designated staff member. The Peace Officers designated through the Manager of Protective Services have been fulfilling this duty.
“The policy also gives direction on what to do when a funeral is delayed because maybe family members have a long way to travel, or the spouse is sick, or it is during harvest season and the family wants to wait until that is completed.
“Also provides direction on what order the flags in Council Chambers should be displayed.”
It states in the policy the three levels of government will be represented in the council chambers by their flags, located in the northeast end of the room and in this order: municipal, Canada and Alberta flags.
The policy includes special days when the Kneehill County flag will be lowered in honour of national remembrance, including April 9 in recognition of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and in recognition of the passing of MLAs or MPs who formerly represented Kneehill County in the legislature or Parliament.
Haugen clarified the protocol on flags flying at night. He said the rules for flying flags at night reflect the desire to avoid staff having to go back to the county office at sunset to lower the flag.
Councillors unanimously approved the new policy.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter