Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rainbow crosswalk gets green light in Coldstream

by Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star posted Jul 27, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Efforts from Coldstream youth to splash the colours of inclusivity in their town are paying off. The district has agreed to look at possible locations for a rainbow crosswalk in Coldstream. The decision followed a swarm of 31 youth, parents and supporters who packed council chambers Monday in support of the initiative. Council also received a petition with 50 signatures and a staggering 39 letters. “It represents the freedom of expression, the freedom to be who you are and still be accepted and valued despite it,” said local youth Aasha Sanders, who drew enthusiastic applause. Initially, a request for a rainbow crosswalk was denied by Coldstream due to safety concerns and a district policy of not supporting one group over another. But as Sanders explains, the rainbow crosswalk does not just show support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups. “These crosswalks are for everyone. They are installed to show that this community is a supportive community.” For the average white, heterosexual man, like himself, resident Richard Rolke said he feels very included in Coldstream. But for many youth in the community, those feelings are not echoed. “Just saying that we are inclusive is not enough,” said Rolke. “We need to take a stand as a community.” Coun. Pat Cochrane agreed. “I think we’re lagging behind the times. I don’t agree with the policy and I think we should revisit it.” But not everyone was on board initially. “I think our policy has good rationale behind it,” said Coun. Doug Dirk. “We can work with the community, the group, and find a way to communicate that message that doesn’t get tied up in infrastructure.” While the issue of safety was raised, it was also quickly dismissed. “Really, what it comes down to is it’s just paint and really I don’t think it does us any harm to do this,” said Coun. Richard Enns. Showing how times and people have evolved, Coun. Gyula Kiss also pointed to a time about 18 years ago when he was mayor and had an angry mob sitting in front of him. “I was requested to proclaim Gay Pride Week,” said Kiss, who supported the initiative, but didn’t receive any support from council and he took a lot of grief from others in the community. In the end, all of council agreed to have staff bring back a report on the best location for a rainbow crosswalk with updated costs. Sanders also said that those in support of the crosswalk could help fund it.

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