Town of Princeton says banner with Russian flag elements is not political; part of welcoming marketing campaign

Russian flag not political

The Town of Princeton has clarified it is not making any political statements through its new marketing campaign, after some residents were concerned to see a Russian flag installed downtown this week.

The new campaign is called "Princeton Welcomes the World," and has seen more than 40 banners representing the countries of origin of Princeton visitors installed around town.

Countries to highlight were chosen from Princeton's Visitor Information Centre data, and Russia was one of them.

Some residents took to social media shortly after the banners went up this week, concerned that a banner inspired by the Russian flag in the main area of town seemed to show support for the nation, which is currently involved in a lengthy invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Canada is an active ally of Ukraine in the war.

Others commented they were fine with the flag, encouraging the welcoming spirit of the project.

Town CAO Lyle Thomas said the municipality is aware of the concerns, and has seen the social media backlash. They have also received some phone calls and in-person feedback, though Thomas noted that some have been in support for the banner, and others in opposition, in equal measure.

"It never was intended to be a political statement. It was really part of our marketing campaign to just sort of acknowledge the success that we've seen through tourism here," Thomas said.

The banners are grant-funded at no cost to local taxpayers. A Ukraine banner is also included. Each banner uses elements of a nation's flag and expresses a warm welcome in the native language of the country. They are displayed all around town.

The backlash to the Russian banner specifically is on town staff's radar, Thomas said, but no action is being taken at this time.

"Staff are going to monitor it and if it gets out of hand or what we feel is out of control, then we will definitely bring it to council's attention," Thomas said.

"But at this point, I think it's just a reaction and we'll just monitor the chatter."

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