Pride flag taken from Langley resident's front lawn after neighbour's complaint
Township says crews assumed sign on which the flag was draped was public property
A resident of the Township of Langley, B.C., says she was shocked to discover that civic workers removed a Pride flag from a sign on her property last Friday because of a neighbour's complaint.
Lisa Ebenal had draped the flag over the sign on her property that welcomes people to her subdivision, Bertrand Creek. In a written statement, the township said crews mistook the sign for public property and "removed the flag as per standard practice."
But Ebenal says the sign is clearly on her property, and the township never bothered to check or talk to her about it before taking it down.
"The [township] acted on a lot of assumptions," she said.
Ebenal put the flag up last Thursday evening in honour of Pride Month and in support of LGBT family and friends. This was the second flag she had put up; she says the first one was stolen the week before after it had been up for a few days.
She says she found out the flag was missing a second time after her neighbour, Malcolm Dailly, phoned to tell her it was gone. Dailly says he had seen a township truck go by shortly after the flag disappeared, and he suspected a civic worker had taken it.
When Dailly phoned the township about the missing flag, the person who answered said they didn't know anything about it. But he says two hours later a city official called back and apologized profusely.
"I said, 'Why a Pride flag? Why would you remove that?' And he kept saying this was a terrible mistake," Dailly said.
The township says the complaint it received was about the flag covering a public sign, and as soon as crews discovered the subdivision sign was indeed on private property it promptly returned the flag and apologized.
But Ebenal and Dailly suspect the complaint, and the township's swift response to it, had more to do with the flag's association with LGBT rights.
"I just was absolutely shocked that the township would act on that type of complaint," Ebenal said. "If it was a nativity scene at Christmas, would they have come to take that down off my property?"
Dailly, who is gay and came out nearly 50 years ago in England, says he was also dismayed by the township's response to the complaint.
"Over the years I've been bullied, I've been spat at, I have been ridiculed," he said. "And in all the years I've lived in Canada never ever had anything like this happen before."