Petawawa decides against flying pride flag

PETAWAWA, ONT. — There is controversy in the Ottawa Valley, with the town of Petawawa deciding against flying the pride flag this month.

It’sleft members of the community like Johnathan Frampton feeling ignored.

“I think it’s quite disappointing,” says the 21-year-old Petawawa resident. “I thought it would be a good thing for the town of Petawawa, especially with the Garrison doing it this year, the school board is doing it.”

The town says the decision came down to a matter of policy, citing Resolution 11. Essentially, Resolution 11 is a policy that forbids the town from making any public proclamations. It was put in place in 1998 to ensure Petawawa remained as neutral and controversy-free as possible.

The final decision on the matter came at a council meeting on Monday, where Petawawa deputy mayor Gary Serviss was pushing to change the 23-year-old regulation.

“I just think this resolution now is a little bit restrictive and not flexible enough,” Serviss tells CTV News. “But I feel it’s 2021 and society’s values have changed, and I feel perhaps it’s time to revisit this resolution.”

Serviss’s motion to amend Resolution 11 got four out of seven votes of approval, but ultimately failed as it needed two-thirds majority, or five out of seven votes, to pass.

“There are municipalities all across Canada of all sizes and right here in Renfrew County who are able to navigate this terrain,” says Jill Holroyd, the Chapter Lead for PFLAG Renfrew County, when asked if the policy makes sense to her.

“They failed in their duty as councillors and mayor in not representing the views of their citizens.”

Holroyd says the decision now sends a dangerous message to those in the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“It’s sending people back into the closet and saying we don’t want to hear you, we don’t see you, we don’t want to deal with you.”

“The thing is, representation for queer youth can make a huge difference,” says Frampton. “Especially growing up in a small, more conservative town.”

Now Serviss is worried about what the town’s actions say about Petawawa.

“Even a small gesture can show that your town is a safe, welcoming, inclusive community. I hope people don’t get the wrong impression about what our town is.”

The town of Petawawa has voted not to fly a Pride flag because of a rule that forbids the town from making any public proclamations. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)

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