In a Wednesday afternoon tweet, artist Roy Henry Vickers claimed the district of Tofino had used his design for its municipal flag without his permission. (Twitter)

In a Wednesday afternoon tweet, artist Roy Henry Vickers claimed the district of Tofino had used his design for its municipal flag without his permission. (Twitter)

Municipal flag ranking project sparks controversy in Tofino

Artist Roy Henry Vickers claims he never gave district permission to use the image.

A CBC reporter’s quest to rank B.C.’s municipal flags sparked a West Coast controversy this week as the artist behind the image on Tofino’s flag claimed he’d never given Tofino permission to use it.

Justin McElroy ranked Tofino’s flag at 38 out of the 130 flags on his list, explaining that the flag “screams Tofino,” and has a “very nice postcard design,” but lost marks for having ‘Tofino B.C.’ printed on it as well as the artist’s signature.

A potentially larger problem than that signature’s impact on the flag’s ranking arose when the artist it belongs to, Roy Henry Vickers, saw the flag and claimed he had never given Tofino permission to use his design.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne was quick to respond, Tweeting that the district was looking into the allegation.

She later followed up, suggesting Tofino had discovered documentation that shows the district received permission to use the image and that “our records indicate the artist was paid.”

The two sides had seemingly reached a resolution Thursday afternoon as Vickers, who owns a gallery in Tofino, Tweeted he was reviewing a contract with the district.

The flag does not seem to appear anywhere on the District of Tofino’s website and is not believed to be flying anywhere in town. McElroy found the design on the Flags of the World website.

Osborne told the Westerly News late Thursday afternoon that she had not spoken directly with Vickers, but had reached out to him, and that she believes the issue has been resolved.

She said the district’s documents show that Tofino reached an agreement with Vickers to design Tofino’s municipal logo in 1992 and that the two parties reached another agreement to adapt the logo into a flag in 2002.

“I was surprised to see Roy Henry Vickers Tweet, but I was quite confident that we would be able to find the backup documentation and just wanted to make sure we could take care of everything and clear up any misunderstandings,” she said.

She added she is a fan of McElroy’s and had been following his flag rankings before the local controversy unfolded.

“He’s funny and irreverent and I enjoy following his writing, his Tweets and social media,” she said. “So, when he came out with the municipal flag series, I knew it was going to be a good one. I think it’s all tongue in cheek and in good humour, poking a little bit at some of the funny and odd looking flags that towns have.”

Osborne, who first joined Tofino’s council in 2013, said she was living in Tofino when the flag was unveiled in 2002, but could not recall ever seeing it in use.

“I’m not sure what the use of the municipal flag really could be. It isn’t something that’s come up ever in any conversation I’ve had with anyone. In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen municipal flags really at play is at the annual UBCM Convention where there’s a display of every single flag. But, I don’t think they have Tofino’s because we’ve never given them one,” she said. “I’m not sure that it really qualifies as a flag. There’s probably rules that it breaks, but it is beautiful.”

She added she often hears positive feedback about the logo Vickers designed for Tofino in 1992.

“When I pass out my business card, I invariably get the comment, ‘What a beautiful logo.’ That is my segue to tell people about Roy Henry Vickers and the Eagle Aerie Gallery—which most people have heard of or even visited,” she said. “I think we’re fortunate to have Roy’s iconic art as part of our municipal image.”

The Westerly News has reached out to Vickers for comment and will update this story when new information comes in.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

More sleeping cabins for the homeless in the Cowichan Valley could soon be put in place if a $2.5-million grant application to the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program is successful. (File photo)
Funding sought to expand homeless initiatives in Cowichan Valley

$2.5-million grant would see more sleeping cabins and outreach projects

The old Stanley Gordon school in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)
Editorial: Old school properties represent potential for our areas

There are opportunities, often sitting right in the middle of our small communities.

Sweet gum trees like this one in City Square will be replaced over the next three years. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan plans big tree replacement project for downtown

Sweet gums in City Square and along Station Street will go over the next three years

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP, investigating explosion in Harewood, also came across an alcohol still on the property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
VIDEO: B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

B.C. Ferries’ sixth Island-class vessel launches at Damen Shipyards Galati in Romania. The ship is the second of two that will service the Nanaimo-Gabriola Island route starting in 2022. (Photo submitted)
Second hybrid ferry for Nanaimo-Gabriola route launched overseas

Island-class vessel will enter service in 2022

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
B.C. red dresses symbolizing missing, murdered Indigenous women vandalized a 2nd time

Nelson’s REDress Project was vandalized along with an outdoor installation on Vancouver Island

A nurse loads a syringe with a vaccine for injection at the Victoria Clipper Terminal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout not enough to bring back normal life by fall: report

Only 51% of the population will be protected under B.C.’s current rollout, SFU professors say more vaccinations are needed to achieve herd immunity

Most Read