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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Fort St. John council voted in favour of installing a rainbow crosswalk in collaboration with the North Peace Pride Society to promote diversity and the inclusion of the LGBTQIA2+ community at their latest council meeting on Monday.
In a report to mayor and council, city staff said the installation of the crosswalk would provide a “concrete way” to support the pride community in Fort St. John and foster a community spirit of diversity. The cost of the project is estimated at less than $6,500.
The location of the crosswalk is still to be determined by city staff and the North Peace Pride Society, but city staff identified several potential locations, including on 100th Street between City Hall and the RCMP detachment, by City Hall on 106th Avenue or on 100th Street at one or both of the intersections that cross 102nd Avenue.
Other potential locations for the colourful crossing are at the entrance of the Pomeroy Sport Centre along 96th Street or near the BCGEU building either on 100th Street or on 98th Street.
During the meeting, city councillor Trevor Bolin said he preferred the crosswalk going near the RCMP building for two reasons— the first being the section of the city that it would be located in, and the second was the hope that if the crosswalk were near the RCMP detachment, it would deter potential vandals.
“Dawson Creek’s pride sidewalk was vandalized numerous times at large expense and a lot of work. I think having it in a location where there’s RCMP, where there are city vehicles, where there are people walking in that Tim Hortons, I think, will save us an extreme amount of work,” Bolin said.
“Knowing what has happened in neighbouring communities—and Grande Prairie was no different—we’ve seen that happen, and I don’t want to see this become bigger than what it is in a negative aspect.”
While Bolin stated he was in favour of the crosswalk, he recommended that city staff take a “hard look” at that location.
Councillor Gord Klassen said he preferred the location near the entrance of the Pomeroy Sport Centre because the area doesn’t see as much traffic, adding that in Fort St. John, road lines don’t tend to last very long.
Klassen also stated that he’d like to see the city expand its promotion of diversity and inclusion to encompass all groups and peoples in Fort St. John.
“As I talk to people in our community, I hear from several who struggle with that same sense of belonging and inclusion that we’re hearing, even in this report,” Klassen said, referencing the report from the director of community services on the rainbow crosswalk.
He continued by stating there are people of different nationalities and religious backgrounds in the community and other areas who have received verbal or physical attacks and want to feel like they belong.
“I did some research on it. There are a few key communities that have created broader inclusion and have actually taken symbols of different groups in their community who feel like they would like to be part of the community and incorporated them into a design,” Klassen said.
He added that he wanted to see the crosswalk incorporate broader inclusion of these groups, however, the rest of the council decided that this initiative would be better suited for a separate endeavour.
Bolin stated that these groups may not see a benefit from being a part of the rainbow crosswalk project.
“We need to go back to the groups that you’re referencing and ask what they feel would help them. For us to tell them what’s going to make them feel included, we’re wasting our time. We need to be able to have the time and the budget to go back to these groups and say, “What would make you feel like you’re included?” Bolin said to Klassen.
The project passed with all but one member of city council voting in favour. Councillor Klassen opposed the motion.
To view Council’s full discussion on the crosswalk, view the video below:
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