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Councillor suggests Christian Heritage Month being singled out by pausing city hall’s proclamation policy

London City Hall, as seen on June 1, 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)   London City Hall, as seen on June 1, 2023. (Daryl Newcombe/CTV News London)
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Official proclamations issued by the City of London are back in the spotlight.

On Monday, the Corporate Services Committee paused its review of three proclamation applications so that the policy can be reviewed once again.

“There’s some inconsistencies in the way that we apply proclamations, as well as what we’re proclaiming, and I do think that it should be reviewed by staff just to make sure there’s alignment,” Councillor Corrine Rahman told colleagues.

Rahman’s motion referred three requests for proclamations on the agenda to a future meeting of CSC while city staff review the proclamation issuance policy, including clarifying whether requests for proclamation can be made by individuals or must come from organizations.

The three applications on the agenda were:

  • Shine the Light on Woman Abuse (November)
  • Christian Heritage Month (December)
  • Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September)

“It feels as though it’s Christian Heritage Month that’s being pulled aside because it’s the one that has a persons name (on the application),” suggested Councillor Susan Stevenson.

“I’m not sure why it’s being seen as though it’s an attack on, or pulling out one particular proclamation?” replied Rahman.

Stevenson asked that all three proclamations be approved before the policy is reviewed by staff.

“The referral was for all three proclamations,” Rahman said. “And it’s again tying the motion to a referral to review all proclamations.”

“I do think that we need to put a bit of a pause on our proclamation approvals, and and review the policy before we continue to issue them,” added Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis.

“We give proclamations to anybody and everybody under the sun,” responded Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen before being informed that council has denied some proclamation requests in the past.

There would be sufficient time for staff and council to review the policy before the dates of the three observances.

The committee recommended the referral 3-2 (Stevenson, Van Meerbergen opposed).

After refusing to make proclamations for more than 20 years, council adopted a new proclamation policy in early 2020 to acknowledge Black History Month.

Since then, council wades through a variety of applications each month for official recognition of certain days, weeks, or months.

Applications are received by the Clerk's Office, but it's up to council to decide which are approved.

“This is taking a considerable amount of staff time,” Rahman explains. “We also have to see what’s the value added of having proclamations when they do take up staff time.”

She adds that the city established an Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression team since the proclamation policy was created, “And yet there is very little involvement from that team on how we look at proclamations.”

“Is the request truly for an observance of an event a month or week for honouring, remembering and celebrating— or is it something else?“ Rahman concludes. “Sometimes those do come in, and so we have to be able to look at it from that lens.”

Council will consider the referral and policy review at its meeting June 4.

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