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Red light for rainbow crosswalk a black eye for council

Council voted 3-2 against a motion to install a rainbow crosswalk like this one in Vancouver on July 18.

Municipal council’s shock decision this week to reject the installation of a rainbow coloured crosswalk is a stark reminder of the challenges still faced by the LGBTQ community in 2017.

In Jasper we like to think of ourselves as a progressive, open-minded community, however the decision demonstrates that Jasper still has a long way to go before we can truly claim to be the inclusive community we like to think we are.

The argument made by Coun. Gilbert Wall that by approving a rainbow coloured crosswalk would some how exclude others simply shows a lack of understanding about what the rainbow colour crosswalk truly represents.

Had he done some basic research he would have quickly discovered that a rainbow crosswalk is in fact a symbol of inclusion for everyone regardless of their sex, gender or identity – including Anglo-Saxon, heterosexual males as he himself made so very clear.

In fact if you take it a step further the modern colours of the rainbow coloured flag have nothing to do with sex, gender or identity and actually represent something entirely different: red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, and violet for the human spirit.

Armed with this knowledge it should have been easy to support the proposed crosswalk because after all we are a community that prides itself for its abundance of nature and its vibrant art scene.

Nevertheless he wasn’t the only councillor who voted against the crosswalk. Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey and Coun. Rico Damota each said they couldn’t support the proposal without a clear policy.

While their concerns are valid, it’s difficult to understand how a decision about a crosswalk is any different than previous decisions council has made without a clear policy.

Take for instance council’s unanimous decision in March to approve a proclamation to foster a welcoming and inclusive community.

That decision was made without a preexisting policy after two lengthy discussions and ultimately resulted in the drafting of a new policy about how to deal with proclamations in the future.

In the case of the rainbow coloured crosswalk, not only did council reject it, but it also failed to direct administration to create a new policy, an omission one would hope was forgotten in the heat of the moment.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that while Jasper has come a long way to create a progressive, open minded and inclusive community, it still has a long way to go.

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