Qualicum Beach council has directed staff members to look into options and costs of painting a rainbow crosswalk in the town.
Coun. Robert Filmer brought the motion to council at their Dec. 17 meeting, asking that staff be directed to “research the feasibility, options, implications and costs associated with painting a pride crosswalk in the Town of Qualicum Beach.”
Filmer said the motion came as a response to students who had approached him during his campaign for councillor, asking that the pride symbol have a place in town.
The motion passed, with Coun. Teunis Westbroek the only councillor to vote against it.
“I had students approach me requesting that we have the symbol in the Town of Qualicum Beach for the acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” said Filmer.
“For students to ask their future community leaders at that time, who are now community leaders, for their place in the community, that’s huge for them.
“And as I pointed out earlier, it’s not just a symbol that’s for that community, it’s an anti-bullying and harassment symbol too. It’s a symbol that accepts everyone for who you are no matter what.
“And for some students that might not get that acceptance in their schools or in their home life, to get that from their community leaders, I think that sends off a really big message, and it would look great in the town of Qualicum Beach.”
Coun. Scott Harrison noted that the second-leading cause of death for teenagers in Canada is self-harm, behind motor vehicle accidents.
“If you’re LGBTQ, you have a four-time higher rate of death by suicide. It’s something that I think starting the conversation would be a good thing,” he said.
Westbroek said he agreed that “we need to have that conversation.”
But he said he was considering what a facilitator during strategic plan talks had said about the situation in another municipality where a rainbow crosswalk had been painted.
“I think it was Squamish,” said Westbroek.
“The next thing we heard was that other groups wanted the sidewalk painted to reflect their values. It was First Nations, then the Sikh community, and I think others were coming forward. So I thought, to me, by having a conversation and making sure that people feel safe in our community, definitely, but to start painting sidewalks or crosswalks to reflect all these different types of values, I’m not in favour of.”
Coun. Adam Walker responded, saying: “If the service organizations that built our community want a crosswalk, I’m all for that — if the fire department and our protective services want a crosswalk, I’m all for that. And if this rainbow crosswalk benefits that segment of our society, I think that’s great.”
Mayor Brian Wiese said that, while he understands both sides of the argument, the information that staff would come back with, such as possible locations, would help to make a decision.
Filmer added that, “On Vancouver Island, we are one of the only communities that do not have this symbol in their town,” saying that the trend has been to paint rainbow sidewalks near schools.
“In Parksville, they have theirs right in front of Ballenas Secondary School, and if we’re going to start thinking about location, I think that’s where the first mindset would have to go, is in front of Kwalikum Secondary.”