Proclamations suddenly a hot issue

Should North Battleford continue to issue civic proclamations?

That’s a question that has come up suddenly in the wake of Yorkton’s recent move to do away with the practice.

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Yorkton no longer makes official proclamations designating special days or weeks for any events or organizations.

According to a City of Yorkton news release, the policy took effect at the Oct. 21 meeting. At that meeting, two groups, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 77 and the Yorkton Exhibition Association, presented before council on their annual Veteran’s Week and Harvest Showdown Week, respectively. Instead of proclaiming those weeks, council simply accepted and received the information.

“It makes the process equitable in that all organizations are treated in the same manner,” said Yorkton’ mayor, Bob Maloney, about the change.

The idea is to get ahead of the issue of controversial groups going to City Hall and demanding recognition for their cause. But the move by Yorkton has been controversial in its own right, with claims that veterans groups are being slighted by the decision.

In the wake of the Yorkton move, other cities, including North Battleford, are looking at their own processes for proclamations and putting it under the microscope as well.  

“I can say that is under review, the whole process of proclamations,” said Mayor Ryan Bater to reporters at City Hall Monday, Oct. 28.

“Proclamations are useful for organizations to raise awareness of their services or of issues that are near and dear to them. But there’s a practicality involved when a municipality issues a proclamation, and sometimes those proclamations can be controversial. Municipalities don’t want to get involved with that.”

At the moment, the discussion is still in its preliminary stages and is happening internally at City Hall. The issue has not come up at council meetings yet.

The early indication from civic officials is that North Battleford does not seem likely to go the route of an outright ban like Yorkton.  

“At the very least, we want a concrete policy,” said Bater. While he noted Yorkton had done away with proclamations altogether, other cities were looking at putting in policies to “stabilize the process.”

The idea would be to have a process in place where all requests are dealt with fairly.

“We haven’t encountered any controversies here, but I know other municipalities have and we want to get ahead of that.”

For now, proclamations continue to be issued. At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Bater proclaimed November as Adoption Awareness Month in the city of North Battleford.

 

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