SURREY — The giant Canadian flag in Guildford isn’t gone for good, it’s just being replaced.
On Monday (Nov. 6), the 86-metre flag pole stood void of the massive maple leaf that usually flies high above the Barnes Wheaton auto lot.
The most recent 50-by-80-foot flag was destroyed during last week’s wind storm, said dealership president Greg Barnes.
“We took it down last week and we’re just waiting for the new one to come in,” he told the Now-Leader. “We’re hoping to have it back up on the weekend.”
This is a really bad time of year for the flag, Barnes said, because it’s frequently destroyed in heavy wind and wet weather.
“Once that flag gets a tail, it’s like pulling a loose thread on a sweater, it just totally unravels,” he added.
The flagpole was brought to the dealership site in 1987, a year after it stood as the world’s largest freestanding such pole at the Expo 86 fair in Vancouver.
When Barnes Wheaton took over the 104th Avenue business in 2012, ownership inherited the landmark flagpole, along with all the work and costs that come with it.
“It’s a big-budget item for us, and we’re doing our best to maintain it,” Barnes said. “It’s upwards of $40,000 a year to keep that thing flying. That’s six flags plus maintenance and all that stuff.”
When stormy weather is forecast, dealership management attempts to take down the flag, “because we know it’ll just get destroyed, and it’s almost five grand a copy to get new ones,” Barnes said.
“We get calls as soon as it’s gone or when it gets ripped,” he added, “and when it gets ripped, oh man, we want to get it off (the flagpole) as soon as possible because we get so many calls from people saying we’re not respecting the flag and all that stuff. But the first thing is, you have to wait until the wind dies down before we can even take it down (for safety reasons).”