March 28, 2019 12:55 am
Updated: March 28, 2019 3:50 pm

White Rock restaurant allowed to fly both Mexican flags after becoming caught in bylaw flap

WATCH: A complaint about a Mexican restaurant in White Rock that was flying two flags has the mayor and several councilors reviewing a city bylaw. Nadia Stewart explains.

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A Mexican restaurant on White Rock’s waterfront will soon be allowed to fly both of its flags again after it became caught in a bylaw dispute this week.

Primo’s Mexican Grill was forced to take down one of its two Mexican flags Monday after being told by a bylaw officer it had violated a law permitting only one flag to fly outside a business — a bylaw that White Rock’s mayor and council are now reviewing.

Restaurant co-owner Jaclynn Villanueva said a single complaint sparked a visit from a bylaw officer.

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“It didn’t matter apparently what the flag was,” she said. “It was just the fact that we had flags hanging, and apparently it was not according to the bylaw.”

Co-owner Joel Villanueva was more blunt when he described how it felt to take the flag down: “This is completely ridiculous.”

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The Villanuevas said they put two flags up to try to draw attention to their restaurant, which is located at the end of the popular waterfront strip that doesn’t see as much traffic as other businesses.

“We thought it would help draw attention to this end of the strip that just looks closed down,” Jaclynn said.

The Villanuevas said they were told they would be fined every day until the flag came down.

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Failing to comply with Bylaw 1923 carries a fine of $100 for the first offence, with fines going up as high as $500, according to the city’s regulations on ticketing for bylaw offences,

But Jaclynn said the rules around flags aren’t exactly clear in the bylaw itself, which covers all signs displayed in the city.

“The wording on this bylaw is completely murky,” she said. “It exactly says you do not need a permit for a flag.

“It’s just a gross misuse of resources having to come down here and enforce taking down a flag when there’s so many other things to be dealt with.”

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City councillors appeared to agree. After word emerged about the flag flap, some councillors took to social media to say the bylaw should be reviewed.

Coun. Helen Fathers said on Twitter that the rule “seems a bit silly,” and she questioned why anyone complained in the first place.

The City of White Rock told Global News that the bylaw officer who issued the ruling “saw there was merit in the complaint and sought cooperation from Primo’s and received it.”

On Wednesday, White Rock’s planning and development services director Carl Johannsen said the city will reverse the initial decision.

They’ve also promised to review all bylaws affecting waterfront businesses.

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“The sign bylaw has been in effect since 2010,” Johannsen said. “I think when you have a bylaw that’s getting into the decade age, it’s time to review and see if it’s relevant.”

City council also created a Marine Drive Task Force in December that was tasked to look at updating the waterfront’s design and update its policies that regulate the character of its businesses.

“The matter regarding flags has highlighted the need for a full review of the sign bylaw, which the task force will be looking at,” the city said.

—With files from Nadia Stewart

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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