Barrie Burden with his flag that’s hanging in his backyard. Burden had another flag flying on the front of his house, but the strata council fined him $50 since it violated a bylaw. — Lauren Collins photo

Mayor, residents show support for Qualicum Beach flag-waver

Resident charged $50 for flying Canadian flag against strata rules

As a number of Canadians showed their pride for their country this past weekend, a handful have also showed their support for one Qualicum Beach man.

After flying the Canadian flag on the front of his home for weeks, Barrie Burden said he was given a fine — to the tune of $50 per week — by his strata council. Burden said he received the letter just a few days before Canada Day.

When he first received the letter, Burden said he was initially very upset and angry.

“I understand the situation. I see their viewpoint,” said Burden. “The flag isn’t an issue with them, it’s that I broke the bylaw. They’re unmoving on it. They’re not going to move on it because that’s what they’re there to do. They’re volunteers from my own little community.

“I asked them that they would look the other way for a while until the AGM in September and I can introduce a motion to see if I can get (the bylaw amendment) approved, but no. They just sent the letter to me and that was it.”

After hearing about the fine through news reports, numerous people have showed their support by either flying flags in Burden’s strata-run complex or offering to pay the fine.

One of those people is Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek.

“If they insist on charging the $50 fine, that Barrie would have to pay this fine, I offered to pay for it and so have many other people,” Westbroek said. “I would do it because I love this country.”

Westbroek said people have been contacting him to say they would either help pay or would be willing to help raise the funds for Burden.

“There are people who are rising to the occasion and saying, ‘You know what? We should stand together.’ That’s what often happens when something is perceived to be a little negative,” said Westbroek.

Burden said he never would have imagined such a reaction.

“Honestly, I still don’t know what to think of it. I’m surprised,” he said. “I shouldn’t be surprised because a lot of people have the same pride in their flag and their country as I do.”

Burden describes himself as a “proud Canadian” with children and grandchildren in the armed forces.

“I’ve flown a flag for the last 23 years when I lived in Edmonton, off my house there.”

While Burden received the fine just before Canada Day, he said this all started last year.

“About a year ago, I asked permission for the (strata) council to OK a flag to be put out because they have a bylaw that says you can’t attach anything to the outside of the building or the fence. They said no and they were concerned other people would put other things up if they approved it.”

Despite his request being denied by the strata council, Burden said he decided to put up a flag on his back fence anyway.

“I bought a pole and a flag and I erected it and I was told later by somebody that I was snubbing them (the strata council) by doing it, but nobody did anything about it.

“So I kept it there and as Canada Day approached, I thought I’m going to put one up front, they haven’t done anything about the one in the back, so maybe they’ll ignore my flag in the front.”

As of Monday morning, Burden said he still had the flag flying on the back fence, but he had lowered it.

“It looks quite sad, actually. It isn’t perky and standing up straight like it was before,” said Burden, adding that he’s taken down the flag from the front.

“I don’t want to discontinue, but I did take it off last night (July 2),” Burden said Monday.

However, Burden said the stand is still there, despite the strata council wanting it removed.

“I’m not going to (remove it) because I have a feeling that I’m going to be allowed to put that up sooner or later again.”

Burden said with the positive reaction he received from people and his community, he thinks the strata council would approve a bylaw amendment, but with certain parameters in place.

“I’m going to give it a lot of thought between now and September and see if I can come up with some ideas.”