What’s the harm in proclaiming “Day of the Honey bee”, a day to raise awareness to the plight of the honey bee, each year on May 29? Or to proclaim every June 1 “Intergenerational Day” to celebrate different generations and what they can offer to the community?
A proclamation is defined as a public or official announcement that deals with a matter of great importance.
How that great importance is defined and how it will be acknowledged varies community to community, so for almost 20 years the government has stepped in to provide direction.
For example, Montrose council reviewed its proclamation policy at the July 15 meeting, which categorically states that the village declines all invitations and requests for the proclamation of causes.
“It is the policy of council not to participate in national, provincial or regional proclamation in the Village of Montrose,” read Kevin Chartres, chief administrative officer (CAO), in council.
The policy states that human rights tribunals and law courts in B.C. and Ontario ruled that a municipal council could not use its discretion to endorse, or decline to endorse, requests for proclamations. The purpose and meaning of such proclamation became an administrative routine and thus lost its original value, states the 1998 policy.
Since November 2000, the Village of Warfield has the same policy in place as Montrose, in summary “to decline all invitations and requests for the proclamation of causes.”
A policy of this type has been in effect in the City of Rossland since the ‘90s, said Tracey Butler, deputy CAO for Rossland.
Last reviewed in May 2012, the golden city’s policy states that in order to avoid discrimination or offending any group, organization, individual or event, it is the policy of council to decline all requests to issue proclamation.
In 2003, the Village of Salmo signed its policy, and declines to make proclamations, citing a need to eliminate unnecessary administration of proclamations.
The decision to eliminate proclamations is based on administrative cost and lack of specific authority in the Local Government Act, states the policy.
The City of Trail and the Village of Fruitvale prefer a more altruistic approach to the subject.
“Proclamations are put forward by individuals and groups that are passionate about causes,” said Trail councillor Robert Cacchioni.
“Given that the process takes very little time we feel we should comply with the wishes of the organizations and proclaim the issue.”
At a recent meeting, Trail council proclaimed Sept 21 to be “International Day of Peace” in the city, to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace.
This sentiment is resonated in the Village of Fruitvale, and Mayor Cecchini regularly signs proclamations to post on the community LED sign, reminding residents about various humanitarian causes.
“It doesn’t take much time,” said Lila Cresswell, Fruitvale CAO.
“And proclamations recognize significant events such as senior’s month which is coming up in September.”
So for now, the endangered honeybee, people young and old, world peace and many other causes will be officially recognized in Trail and Fruitvale.
Trail council tends to deal with proclamations on an individual basis, said Cacchioni.
“We allow it to put out to the public for information and consideration.”
According to Matt Silver, B.C. government communications and public engagement officer, any proclamations the provincial government declares must be processed through the Ministry of Justice.
An individual or group can submit a request for a provincial proclamation to the Order in Council (OIC) office at the Ministry of Justice at least six weeks before the occasion, he explained.
Typical events suitable for proclamations are those that are apolitical, observe milestones, recognize achievements and would not be considered offensive or frivolous by the public.
Although there are no proclamations for August, September will be busy with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Prevention and Support recognized Sept. 9; and B.C. Coaches Week Sept. 14 to 22.
To view the province’s proclamations, visit gov.gc.ca.