EDITORIAL: A tempest in a tequila shot

Marine Drive flag flap moved what should have been a minor issue to top of the pile

Call it a tempest in a teapot – or, rather, a tequila shot.

The removal of a flag in Mexico’s national colours from the outside of Primo’s Mexican Grill on Marine Drive Monday – on the orders of a city bylaw officer citing a violation of the city’s sign bylaw – sent White Rock councillors scrambling to voice their dismay on social media. “Crazy” and “nuts” were words they used.

While the city’s current sign bylaw allows a single flag to adorn the exterior of a business, Primo’s was in violation of it by having two – and it was the second flag that was removed at the bylaw officer’s direction.

Interviewed later by Peace Arch News, Mayor Darryl Walker indicated that the bylaw would likely be in for a revisit, sooner than later.

Not surprisingly, the issue hit city hall desks shortly thereafter. By Wednesday, planning and development services director Carl Johannsen was able to announce a solution – Primo’s signage permit could be modified to permit a second flag.

There had been a torrent of support for the restaurant online, including some residents even wanting to buy Mexican flags to fly in solidarity.

Not bad for a 55-cm-by-88-cm piece of material that – so far as most people were concerned – was doing no-one any harm.

In fairness, it should be recognized that the officer – who was responding to a complaint that Primo’s was flouting the regulations – was only doing what the city pays him to do.

Council has struck its Marine Drive Task Force to boost, rather than undermine, waterfront business – and the city’s evolving waterfront enhancement strategy is aimed at maintaining and enhancing the look and feel of the area.

In that context, niggling enforcement of such a minor infraction seemed like yet another bad White Rock joke (particularly since other restaurants on Marine Drive have been displaying multiple flags without consequence).

The real question in this is who would be conversant enough with city bylaws to complain about an extra flag on Primo’s premises – and what would motivate such a complaint. Curious, indeed – but we’re not holding our breath for that individual to step forward and explain.

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