Does being Canadian mean more than flying the flag?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

7 comments

canada flag hotel georgia
A local developer invested a significant amount of his own money to show his patriotism. Photo: The Province

It's hard to miss a new addition to Vancouver's skyline this week as the world's largest Canadian flag has been hung on the outside of a major downtown development project. It was put up there by Bruce Langereis, owner of Delta Land Developments.

Now the patriot in me would love to believe that Langereis put the flag up simply as a way to express his love for Canada. After all, Vancouver is about to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Canadian pride will bubble over in a few short months. You can expect to see the red and white flag all over the city as normally reserved Canadians go wild once we win our first ever gold medal on home turf.

However, the cynic in me also has to wonder if the developer didn't realize that putting the world's largest Canada flag on his development property might attract significant free publicity to help condo sales. I'm pretty confident that the website residencesatgeorgia.com (which conveniently appears just below the flag) will get reprinted in newspapers and broadcast on television screens across the world.

I've met Bruce on several occasions and he is considered one of the most genuine and community-oriented developers in Vancouver. His Hotel Georgia heritage restoration project is clearly a labour of love in addition to a business venture. But with the global recession still in full swing, all this publicity can't help but draw attention to his project and boost sales.

While I don't quibble with the fact Langereis invested his own money to put up the flag, I would hope that other entrepreneurs wanting to show their patriotism might consider a few other ideas.

Imagine if the next developer wanting to jump onto the community spirit bandwagon decided not to put money into a building wrap, but rather, chose to invest those funds in the City's StreetToHome Foundation established by Mayor Sam Sullivan. The Foundation is committed to helping end homelessness by linking arms with the private sector and building the kind of housing Vancouver's most vulnerable so desperately need.

The business leader could hold a news conference and ask for the mayor to be in attendance. They could announce a six figure contribution and challenge other business leaders to join them in ending homelessness on Vancouver's streets. Perhaps they could set a target of raising $5 million bucks in advance of the Games which could be matched by Provincial and Federal infrastructure funds. Hard to imagine how this wouldn't capture the media or public's attention.

Another option would be to divert the equivalent cost of a building wrap as a contribution to pay for the operation of all of Vancouver's local food banks for the duration of the 17 days of the 2010 Olympic Games. Now imagine the kind of world-wide publicity this type of philanthropy would attract. Not to mention it would also serve to make a huge difference in the lives of so many people and the organizations that help to serve them.

I think Langereis is a good fellow doing some great work in Vancouver. I don't begrudge him for a minute all the free publicity he's obtained for what is widely considered a spectacular project in Vancouver. As a patriotic Canadian, I'm also thrilled with what he's done with our flag.

However, I hope other developers/business leaders contemplating a community contribution before or during the Games consider all their options. A significant investment in social housing or a local food bank may well serve to provide other nations with a better glimpse of what it truly means to be a caring and compassionate Canadian. What do you think?

7 Comments

measure the cost of the flag against the amount of potential profit on each condo sale. IF he sells out a little quicker as a result - would that be such a crime? His marketing technique (if that is indeed what this is) has added benefit to the community which is a lot more than can be said for other marketing strategies.

Why do we always have to be so cynical.

Well said, Sharon.

Perhap's it's about comfort level. It has been against our grain as Canadians for so long to be openly patriotic. Isn't it time to get OVER it, already? Shouldn't we be embracing our identity - God knows VANOC are doing it, and why does no one complain about those ridiculous mascots? Oh, that's right, because they're safe, having almost nothing to do with Canada, let alone Vancouver or Whistler (although surely the ear muffs are a dead giveaway that they must be a distant cousin...)

Cm'on, people - why not CELEBRATE our identity for a change. And in the open, too - crazy thought, I know. We're like the US's closeted gay cousin.

We're here
We like beer
Get used to it

"What do I think."

You guys are better than today's opinion (granted, sugar coated with lot's of nice compliments) ..about Mr. Langereis. Does every single conversation about this city have to include a mea culpa that we can do better with the downtown eastside? I give money there. I have an office on the edge of the place.

Of course we can do better. But aren't we deeper, broader..more interesting than one area and one discussion. I'm beginning to believe all the constant talk is leading to the type of fatigue I'm ranting about right now. Eventually leading to less support for an area genuinely needing brainpower and energy more than money.

I'd suggest unqualified credit for a great marketing move wrapped in a patriotic coat is the accurate opinion.

Thanks for your continued great research,

How cynical can you be? This guy has the idea to do this, and you burn him for it? With the Olympics coming up, this is the perfect idea. I guess in Vancouver, even with the Olympics coming to town, putting up a Canadian flag is still somehow, bizarrely, politically incorrect. Get a life.

I'm w/ Daniel.

I too am all for patriotic displays, especially when our soldiers are on the front lines of any conflict. It's good for us to demonstrate our solidarity with them as best we can.

But commercial displays of patriotism are something else when it's used to boost sales

if the owners had erected the flag on top of Grouse or anywhere they didn't have a development, the comments above might be justified, but in this case I side with Daniel

it's not a big deal (despite the size of the flag), but I don't think he's wrong

Nationalism is in fact racism, and smacks of jingoism as well. Nationalism focuses on its role in justifying and consolidating state power and domination... rather than empowering the individual. Ideally, we should be working toward a no-nation world in which cooperative societies flourish. The huge flag is nothing but a reminder of how divided the world is. Nationalism has caused centuries of conflict - and we're still worshiping the 13th Century idea of 'us and them'.

The business elite should love your idea of corporate donations... this activity would further remove the government's responsibility to look after the interests of the people first. The more business influence on public policy the better? Business wrapping itself in yet another community concern? Isn't it enough that the corporate ownership/sponsorship premise has taken over festivals, buildings, museums, community centres, and all the rest of what used to be owned and controlled by the public?

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