August 06, 2016 - 9:34 AM
VERNON - A local man is hoping Vernon will become the next city to embrace a rainbow crosswalk.
Travis Irmen is proposing an eight-colour rainbow crosswalk at the prominent intersection of 30 Avenue and 30 Street downtown Vernon.
He says the crosswalk would show Vernon is a supportive and inclusive community.
“It’s really about everybody. We should love everyone as human beings rather than fitting them into groups,” he says.
Irmen, who grew up in Vernon, was inspired after local teen Aasha Sanders encouraged the District of Coldstream to approve a rainbow crosswalk. Coldstream council is considering the idea, and a fundraiser is underway to help take care of the cost.
The City of Kelowna unveiled a rainbow crosswalk in 2015, following in the steps of many other communities across Canada and North America. Another community in the region, Princeton, also has a rainbow crosswalk. Despite the momentum of the movement, some communities have been resistant to the concept. The mayor and council of Valemount, a small community southeast of Prince George, recently rejected a request citing concerns with cost and safety.
Irmen is hopeful the City of Vernon will be more open-minded.
“I’m not doing a petition yet, because to me a petition means protest,” he says. “In Kelowna, it just happened, and I wanted Vernon to have that opportunity too.”
Irmen is submitting a formal application to the city and expects to present to council in September.
“My best outcome or wish is that on the day I go to speak there’s an overwhelming amount of support and it won’t just be swept under the rug. This is a big issue for a lot of people, and a lot of people would benefit from having Vernon support the LGBTQ community. If we don’t get one, we will have fallen backward.”
Letters of support can be forwarded to Irmen at Travis_Irmen@live.ca.
A rainbow crosswalk was installed at Lawrence Avenue and Pandosy Street in downtown Kelowna in 2015.
Image Credit: Okanagan Pride
— This story was updated at 8 a.m. Aug. 15, 2016 to say Irmen is expetced to appear before council in September, not August.
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