It’s a tradition that harkens back to the knights of old, when cities and castles were walled and guarded against armies of marauding enemies.
It’s the keys to the city, a token granted that allowed someone to come and go as they pleased through the locked city gates, proof that they were trusted by residents.
Now the City of Whitehorse wants the ability to bestow a similar ceremonial honour of its own.
City administration presented the keys to the city policy to city council on Monday night. Robert Fendrick, director of corporate services, explained the idea is to give the city a means of recognizing accomplishments of “national or international significance.”
Potential recipients could include artists, athletes, visiting heads of state and people who have made “significant contributions that bring positive recognition to Whitehorse,” according to the draft policy.
Any Whitehorse citizen could recommend someone be given the keys.
Coun. Dave Stockdale raised a question about the language regarding eligibility, wondering whether restricting key recipients to people with national or international recognition might preclude some very worthy, if very local, Whitehorse volunteers and community members.
“I know we have a volunteer recognition process in the city,” Stockdale said, “but it seems to me that if somebody locally does something that is way over and above volunteer work, is there an opportunity there to recognize someone who isn’t related to a national or international situation, or has this been set in stone since 1066 or something?”
Fendrick said that other cities with a similar policy on keys tend to use keep it focused on accomplishments at the national level or higher, but that Whitehorse could conceivably do whatever it likes.
“We are our own jurisdiction,” Fendrick said. “The sky’s the limit, here.”
So, what would these proposed keys look like? Well, it won’t be just any old brass key.
The options include a plaque with a mounted key, a special presentation key with an inscription, a framed letter from the mayor, proclamations read at city council or even just a stack of documents including the administrative reports, recommendation documents and subsequent resolution.
The keys would be presented at public events. Council will vote on the proposal at the next council meeting.
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