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No to the rainbow: Chilliwack city council denies request for crosswalk in support of LGBTQ community

Last Updated Sep 4, 2019 at 11:55 am PDT

FILE: Students are seen crossing the Ring Rd. following the announcement of the world's only chair in transgender studies at The University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., Friday, January 15, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Summary

City councillors in Chilliwack have voted 'no' to a request to install a rainbow crosswalk

Councillors say it won't change attitudes, that installing one is 'political,' and it's not a good use of tax dollars

Chilliwack has a policy that doesn't authorize crosswalks supporting political or religious movements

CHILLIWACK (NEWS 1130) — A rainbow crosswalk is considered a symbol of inclusion and acceptance for the LGBTQ community, but one won’t be coming to Chilliwack any time soon.

Calling it “divisive” and “political,” city council has shot down a request to install one in that city.

“Just by the feedback we’ve been getting in the last month probably, this is not really bringing out city together, and I don’t think it would be in our best interest to start a precedent here,” Coun. Jeff Shields said at a meeting on Tuesday, despite the council gallery crowded with people clad in rainbow colors.

Coun. Sue Knott said painting a crosswalk wouldn’t make the city more inclusive, and said putting one in would be a “political statement.”

“You cannot change attitudes by changing crosswalks,” she said, adding it would cost taxpayer to paint it. The actual price tag of painting a rainbow crosswalk is unclear.

“I do not support putting in a rainbow crosswalk because we are elected and funded by all citizens of this community. They are not paying us to make political statements,” she said.

Meantime, Coun. Bud Mercer argued if the policy changed, it could open the door for anti-abortion groups.

“We got one email, the (subject) was a pro-life crosswalk, and I think that’s just the first of many that we’re going to receive,” he said.

All but one city councilor voted to deny the application, citing a city policy passed in 2017, which says the City will not authorize crosswalk decoration supporting political or religious movements.

Coun. Jason Lum was the lone councillor to vote in support of the crosswalk, saying on Tuesday, “We have a long, long way to go to understand tolerance.”

Chilliwack has a rainbow crosswalk painted on land owned by the Squiala First Nation.