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Colossal Canada flag stolen from auto dealership in Nanaimo

Theft from Laird Wheaton Chevrolet Buick GMC reported Sept. 25
Ross Barnard, general sales manager of Laird Wheaton Chevrolet Buick GMC, came to work Monday, Sept. 25, to discover someone had made off with one of the dealership’s giant Canada flags, which have flown above the intersection for several decades. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

A giant Canada flag which flew high above a car dealership in Nanaimo is missing.

The flag, owned by Laird Wheaton Chevrolet Buick GMC, has been a landmark at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Bowen Road for decades, but on Monday, Sept. 25, general sales manager Ross Barnard noticed the flag had gone missing.

“I came to work on Monday and, you know, you don’t really look at it all the time, and it was mid-day I looked up and the flag wasn’t there,” Barnard said. “So I phoned the guy who looks after the flag, thinking he may have taken it down as a precaution for the wind. No.”

Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, told the News Bulletin the flag was reported stolen on Monday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. He said it appears the flag was taken within the previous two days from the flagpole at the 2590 Bowen Rd. lot.

“It did not fly off with the weather,” said O’Brien. “It looks like the line was cut.”

Barnard said the flag, 10 metres by five metres, is probably the largest on Vancouver Island. The dealership actually has two of the flags at any one time. The one that was stolen is specially reinforced to handle strong winds and a second lighter-duty flag is flown during milder weather. The flags cost about $1,500 each and are replaced every 12-18 months when they become too weather-worn. The dealership would fly its backup flag, but it is currently away for repair after it tore in the wind. The flags are supplied by Michael Mason and Co. Raising a second flag will also have to wait for winds to die down because they aren’t hoisted but installed on the dealership’s flag staff by a worker with a bucket truck, a process that can’t be done safely when the winds are strong.

The dealership does get its share of theft and vandalism, but has never had a flag stolen.

“I’m more concerned about people stealing the catalytic converters than I am about [them] stealing a massive flag,” Barnard said.

He added that there will be a reward for anyone who finds the flag and returns it.

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