The Hythe Legion is seeking support from the community following a decision from the County of Grande Prairie that it won’t assist in the hanging of the Remembrance Day banners.
2023 marks the fifth year the banners will line the streets to commemorate local veterans.
For the last two, the county has provided the service in installing the banners. More than 50 banners went up last year.
“The initial project was a joint between the (former) village and the legion,” said legion service officer co-chair Bernadine McPherson.
In 2021, the Village of Hythe was dissolved and it was incorporated into the county as part of Division 7.
“The first banners were purchased, one of our Legion members was an employee at the village and she took orders there and we utilized the brackets that were on the poles to place the banners. It was really very much a joint effort at that point.”
After the county absorbed Hythe, county crews provided the necessary lift to hang the banners. This year, however, the county has declined.
County community services general manager Darryl Martin confirmed the county assisted with the hanging with the banners for the first two years to help ease the transition.
“The county’s not doing that in any of the other communities,” Martin said.
Martin noted there are grant opportunities via the county meant to assist with projects such as the hanging of the banners.
“There are recreation grants and there’s also a community assistance grant that groups can apply for to help them with these types of activities,” he said.
“Right now in any of the other hamlets, if anybody wants to do banners or Christmas items or those types of things, that is something that community groups can do.”
McPherson said she felt disappointed by the county’s decision, and said she assumed feedback will be expressed.
Either way, McPherson said the banners will fly in time for Remembrance Day.
“We have local contracting companies and oil companies around the area that would have access to a lift, which is what we would require to have the banners placed,” she said.
“Local volunteerism in Hythe has never been an issue, and I’m certain we can do it. It's just one more thing that we have to know.”
McPherson emphasized the fact the legion has previously had a very good relationship with the county.
“We’ve received lots of financial support in the past, so there certainly isn’t a question that they’ve been very supportive,” she said. “This is just an individual circumstance that we were disappointed in.”
Veteran weighs in
Hythe’s Bill Guise, a veteran of the Canadian Forces, first heard of the county’s decision through the grapevine when he called ahead to have additional brackets installed onto power poles.
“The guy that put them up last year that worked for the county, I called him and asked him if he wanted to hook them up and get them up before winter, and he told me that they were told they weren’t allowed to do it,” Guise said.
“Through the grapevine, my friend said it came up for a higher power, so that was the County of Grande Prairie council that made the decision not to do it.”
For Guise, he said it’s a matter of respect to local veterans.
“It just feels like they're going to tell us exactly what we can do and what we can’t do,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of pride in this hamlet, same as Valhalla and La Glace. We have 50 or 60 banners that we put up for November and it is a good picture for the kids to see.
“Look at some of these pictures, get the family and tell them if there’s a grandpa or great-grandpa or whatever that was in the war and were in the legion.”
Guise urged residents to reach out to the county about what he called a “lack of respect for our veterans” and ask them to reconsider their decision and voice their displeasure.
“They took no consideration of all the hard work people put in to get these banners put up and have them say that they will not be putting them up this year.
“I don’t even know where the idea came from that they didn’t think this was going to get backlash. There’s nine councillors there and I can’t believe that they came to the conclusion that they weren’t going to put the banners up.”