City councillors in Chilliwack have denied a motion to install a rainbow crosswalk in support of the LGBTQ+ community in the downtown area.
Mayor Ken Popove had previously indicated his personal support by signing a petition, but he said Tuesday in council chambers that as mayor, he felt he “had to stand back.”
Many councillors who voted against the idea pointed to council’s 2017 policy not to permit crosswalk decoration that supports political or religious movements or commercial entities.
Coun. Sue Knott said councillors are elected by all citizens, and that a painted crosswalk was not an appropriate use of taxpayers’ dollars.
“When it comes to painting a rainbow on a crosswalk, or baby feet, crosses, anti-immigration or anything else, it becomes a political statement,” Knott said. “It also becomes a target for vandalism and a canvas for intolerance and hate. You cannot change attitudes by painting crosswalks.”
Coun. Harv Westeringh agreed, adding the 2017 policy was about safety.
The only to vote in favour of the idea was Coun. Jason Lum, who said he was disheartened after receiving multiple emails “bordering on hate and intolerance” on the issue.
He suggested supporters might present the project as public art instead, and that he would revise the crosswalk decoration policy if he had the backing.
Some supporters, led by downtown business owner Amber Price, have been advocating for a rainbow crosswalk in Chilliwack for most of the summer. They sat in council chambers, dressed in vibrant rainbow colours, to watch their request be voted down.
“Of course I am disappointed, but that does not mean that I am not still hopeful that there will be change in the future,” said Price.