It hasn’t been bestowed upon anyone in more than 50 years, but the City of Rossland will keep its policy around granting freedom of the city.
The document governs the highest honour the municipality can present a citizen or military regiment, in addition to rules contained in the Community Charter.
During an annual review of city policies, Coun. Stewart Spooner suggested the city scrap its side of the legislation, adopted in 2010.
“I would advocate getting rid of it,” he said.
“That way we would free up ourselves and future councils from ever having to review this policy again. I’m thinking about how much time it would save.”
However, in a 4-3 decision, council opted to keep it on the books.
“Even though it’s archaic and perhaps not as well worded as it could be, it’s not harmful, and doesn’t leave us open to any detrimental action,” said Coun. Janis Nightingale.
“We might as well have it refined with our own policy.”
The Community Charter says a council may, by unanimous vote, confer freedom upon “a distinguished person or a distinguished unit of the armed forces of Canada or another nation.”
The perks that come with the honour? Recipients’ names appear on the voters’ list regardless of where they live and are considered qualified to hold office. Municipalities with parking meters often give them free parking as well, and there’s usually a ceremony and a scroll.
The city’s policy adds that recipients should be honoured for volunteer work in Rossland or that has had an impact on Rossland, stating explicitly that they should not have been paid, and the designation should not be used as a long-service award for retired city employees or members of council – unless that person has also contributed to the community in other ways.
The nomination form reads: “Reserved for exceedingly high merit, it is given only in exceptional cases usually to someone who has gained acclaim in areas of community services, business, philanthropy or the arts and/or who has brought provincial, national, or international recognition to Rossland through his or her achievements.”
Nominees must not have benefitted personally from their activities, nor should their contributions be part of their usual job.
The last person to receive freedom of the city was Rossland-raised Olympic skier Nancy Greene Raine in 1967. Although city staff were unaware of any other recipients when council discussed the matter, there was at least one other: John A. McLeod in 1955.
Ironically, Rossland’s present policy would have disqualified McLeod from receiving it, as he was honoured primarily for his 48 years as city clerk.
McLeod was presented with a gold key and illuminated scroll, and given an evening in his honour.