Majority of Vernon council backs rainbow crosswalk | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Majority of Vernon council backs rainbow crosswalk

Travis Irmen originally proposed a rainbow crosswalk in the summer of 2016 and was thrilled to see the project get the green light on Oct. 24, 2016.
October 24, 2016 - 4:18 PM

VERNON - Downtown Vernon will be a little brighter next spring.

A majority of Vernon council voted in favour today, Oct. 24, of creating a rainbow crosswalk on 30 Avenue. The eight-colour crosswalk symbolizes acceptance and inclusivity, and was proposed earlier this year by local resident Travis Irmen, who says he’s thrilled to see it go ahead.

“I have an older friend that said in his lifetime, he didn’t think he’d see Vernon come this far,” Irmen said after the decision.

The crosswalk will be installed in early Spring 2017 at the intersection of 30 Avenue and 31 Street.

“I think it’s an amazing first step in being inclusive,” Irmen said.

Six councillors voted in favour of the project, while Coun. Scott Anderson objected.

He said there were a number of calls and emails from the public opposing the idea, and felt the crosswalk was creating more divisiveness than inclusivity.

“I haven’t seen this much vitriol on Facebook since I don’t know when. So, this is not all sweetness and flowers. It’s creating division,” he said.

He felt the rainbow crosswalk was not truly inclusive because it is attached to a specific group — members of the LGBTQ community — and said if the city wants to support a symbol of inclusivity, it should be something more neutral, like the Canadian flag. 

However, the rest of council felt the rainbow crosswalk did represent inclusivity, not just for members of the LGBTQ community, but for all citizens.

“It means we accept everybody,” Coun. Catherine Lord said.

Coun. Dalvir Nahal said she hopes the crosswalk will promote education and awareness in the community.

“I want children to walk up to that crosswalk with their parents and ask questions,” Nahal said.

Coun. Juliette Cunningham touched on the reality that hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community still exist.

“You may want to pretend it’s not happening, but it is,” Cunningham said.

Coun. Brian Quiring, Bob Spiers, and Mayor Akbal Mund all spoke in favour of the concept as well.

The initial cost of the crosswalk installation is being covered by a donation from Caliber Sports Systems Inc. Annual maintenance costs will be covered by the city and are expected to be no more than $1,400 a year.

In addition to the crosswalk on 30 Avenue, council is also exploring the idea of a rainbow on the pedestrian pathway between 32 Avenue and 31 Avenue behind the bus loop.

— This story was corrected at 10:07 a.m. Oct. 26, 2016 to correct the spelling of Caliber Sports Systems Inc. 


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