A pro-life group has applied to City of Powell River to display 10,000 small flags at Loggers Memorial Bowl at Willingdon Beach this summer.
Originally, the demonstration was planned to take place on the same day Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy holds its annual PRISMA on the Beach free community concert.
However, city councillor CaroleAnn Leishman saw the scheduling conflict and brought it to the attention of the city’s parks, recreation and culture department.
“They've been asked to apply to rent Willingdon Beach Loggers Memorial Bowl for Saturday, June 23,” said Leishman. The pro-life group was not opposed to the change, she added.
Powell River Pro-Life Society secretary Fraser Field appeared before committee of the whole on April 4.
Councillors avoided debating the contentious subject of abortion and agreed to support freedom of speech, but questioned why the request was being brought before them and not kept at the staff level.
“As a department we looked at this as a divisive issue within the community,” said city director of parks, recreation and culture Ray Boogaards. “We also agree that freedom of speech is extremely important and we should support it. We looked at the whole picture and felt it should be sent to council.”
The decision was sent back to the parks, recreation and culture department because the city has an established application process every organization must follow for renting the Willingdon Beach public area.
The pro-life group’s plan includes setting up a display at 9 am on June 23 and removing it by 1 pm.
Fraser said the group is following the lead of We Need a Law, an organization that advocates for an anti-abortion law in Canada, one of a small number of countries in the world without a law restricting abortion.
“[We Need a Law] is trying to make Canadians more aware of it,” said Fraser, “and break through taboos about talking about abortion in the public square.”