Peachland defies opposition to make its own rainbow crosswalk | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Peachland defies opposition to make its own rainbow crosswalk

Rainbow crosswalk on Kalamalka Road, at Kal Beach, in Coldstream.
November 28, 2019 - 3:00 PM

One Okanagan community is going to get a little brighter.

Peachland council voted in favour this month of getting a rainbow crosswalk, moving forward with a plan that stalled just weeks earlier.

The change was attributed to insight offered from one of the town's newest residents.

Peter Diniz told council he and his longtime partner recently moved to Peachland from Vancouver, after a lengthy period of sussing out the town's attributes. They found it to be welcoming and beautiful but not without concerns.

“As a gay couple, a small percentage of people find us offensive and repulsive, even though they’ve never met us, simply on who we love,” Diniz said.

Until people are aware of their sexual orientation, they may be very welcoming and only do an about-face once they realize he and his partner are a “mister-mister couple,” he said. 

Wanting to see the rainbow crosswalk — a universally acknowledged symbol of diversity — in the town, Diniz approached Mayor Cindy Fortin to discuss the issue and she went to her Facebook to discuss the idea with her network.

Most of the comments on that post were supportive, he said. Some, however, were unsettling to Diniz, who told council that one person paralleled being LGBTQ to being a member of the yacht club, another said that there were already special privileges afforded to people in LGBTQ communities while another said it was a choice.

“It was astounding to me,” Diniz said. “It is not a true reflection of Peachland, we know that.”

He pointed out that being LGBTQ is not a choice, it’s how people are hardwired, and that in some countries it’s still considered a crime where a person can be imprisoned or killed.

The crosswalk itself is not a symbol of protest to those heinous acts and archaic beliefs.

“It’s evolved to include diversity and inclusion,” he said.

City council eventually voted in favour of installing the crosswalk, which comes at an estimated cost of $1,500, with only Coun. Terry Condon voting against it.

“If council wishes to demonstrate that this is an inclusive and welcoming community then I think it needs to do some with respect to everybody, and I see the use of the rainbow crosswalk being the use of an exclusive icon attached to a certain group,” Coun. Condon said in a later meeting. “I would be in support (of) us decorating a crosswalk with words like ‘Peachland welcomes diversity and inclusive community’ or something like that — I’m not a wordsmith.”

He said the rainbow crosswalk doesn’t include people of different religions, creed and colour and he doesn’t want to favour a small political group.

He added that he “couldn’t care less about sexual orientation — it doesn’t bother me, not part of my mindset, as long as it isn’t thrust at me.”

Coun. Keith Fielding added that whether council chooses to support the broader definition of the crosswalk or not, it’s appropriate to proceed with it anyway.

“I was convinced the crosswalk means more than just the LGBTQ community,” he said. “Either way, whether it is totally representative or a minority interest, the case is made to proceed.”

The date for implementation has yet to be set.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2019

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