Each Canada Day the Rotary Club of Oak Bay launches a full-out attack on front lawns. In the second of a series of three weekends throughout the summer season, they unfurl Canada flags across the community as part of the Flag Program.
Each July 1 holiday, flags go missing.
“We had six taken last year and four taken this year from different houses,” said Jim Force, past of the club and a resident of Burdick Avenue, where most of the flags were swiped. There are seven or eight subscribers on the block who are discouraged when one goes missing, he said.
“They just rip the flag off the pole. We assume it’s for young people who like to go down and watch the fireworks and wear a flag draped over them. But all the flags have Oak Bay Rotary written on them, on the band,” he added.
The tagging was done in recent years at the suggestion of Oak Bay Police, said Joan Peggs, chair of the Rotary Club of Oak Bay’s Canada Flag Program.
“It creates a wonderful ambience in a neighbourhood when you have all of these flags flying in the streets,” Peggs said.
“It must be disheartening to the subscriber to find they’ve been targeted by some individual who walks away with their flag. It’s discouraging … it certainly won’t stop us from carrying on with the program.”
The flag program costs a subscriber $50 a year to have a flag erected on their lawn on three holidays in May, July and September.
The full cost of a flag, pole and spike is roughly $45.
Last year they replaced a number of flags, and ordered with another club to get a bulk price of $10 apiece.
The spike that holds the pole, is specially made and costs $14. One spike and five flags were discovered stolen this Canada Day. They had 261 subscribers.
“It’s discouraging and it takes money away from our projects that we do, but also it’s discouraging to the people who make a donation,” Force said.
“The neighbourhood is disheartened … [the program] is about building community and people love it. I’m not letting a few bad apples spoil the bunch,”
Rotary funds community projects such as the recent $13,000-contribution toward the pool climbing wall at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.
“It’s money that we can’t put into our projects,” Peggs said.
In addition to marking the flags and poles, Peggs took one extra safety measure this year in anticipation of thefts.
“This year, I did send an email out to all our subscribers who live in open public areas,” thanking them and letting them know this is the time we lose most of our flags and would they be a little more vigilant and if it’s not too inconvenient, bring it in at night,” she said.
“Quite a few people did that. I was certainly monitoring my neighbourhood and other Rotarians were monitoring theirs,”
Volunteers also posted the flags closer to the homes as a deterrent.
“People are having to actually walk on your lawn and go up to your house to take it,” Peggs said.
Residents interest in flying a flag can still subscribe for the Labour Day weekend with a $20 pro-rated subscription.
Call Peggs at 250-598-1716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org