The rainbow crosswalk at Fifth and Fifth was repainted to make sure it was looking good for the Pride Picnic held in June 2019 at Blackburn Park. City council is considering a location for a second rainbow crosswalk. (File photo)

Salmon Arm council ponders where to put city’s next rainbow crosswalk

Councillor to consult with Pride festival subcommittee for suggestions

Showing support for and acceptance of the LGBTQ community was the baseline for a recent Salmon Arm council discussion about crosswalks and paint.

The city has received emails recently about rainbow crosswalks, so city staff have asked council for direction. Council, in turn, would like input from LGBTQ folks in the city.

At council’s June 8 meeting, Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, talked about Salmon Arm’s lone rainbow crosswalk by Blackburn Park at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street SW.

He said $1,200 was budgeted for it in 2018. About $600 was used initially to paint the crosswalk and then the city spent about another $350 to repair vandalism – and that continued into 2019.

In 2017 Niewenhuizen had prepared a report for council. Along with Blackburn Park, other spots considered were at McGuire Lake, the recreation centre, Ross Street, the Ross Street parking lot and Alexander Street.

Read more: Michael Franti shows support for Inclusive Salmon Arm campaign

Read more: 2018 – Salmon Arm Council approves rainbow crosswalk

Mayor Alan Harrison asked if the Blackburn Park rainbow crosswalk would be repainted soon.

Niewenhiuzen said it would be, but staffing during the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect.

“We are very short-staffed at the moment as we have not been able to hire relief. And we’ve had some promotions. So we don’t have a lot of labour positions available right now. We are being stretched in different directions due to the Covid situation. But we do have a few of our painters in line to have the crosswalk painted very quickly.“

Coun. Chad Eliason inquired about a more permanent solution than paint, such as thermoplastics.

Niewenhuizen’s 2o17 report included costing on thermoplastics, such as one durable alternative to paint that would last seven years but would cost $11,000 to install.

Coun. Tim Lavery said the Blackburn Park location is not ideal – downtown would be better – but it should get painted.

He said council had backed off initially on a downtown location because the bricks lining them were going to be removed, which has since been done. He’d like to see staff prepare a new report for the next budget on a rainbow crosswalk downtown, one which could include input from Downtown Salmon Arm.

“I must admit off the bat I’m very interested around the art gallery and flanging in with their presentations that are upcoming,” Lavery said.

From Oct. 14 to 18 this year, the gallery will house the Salmon Arm Pride Project, an exhibition featuring LGBTQ artists.

Read more: Residents stand up for an inclusive Salmon Arm

Read more: Police call rainbow crosswalk vandalism a hate crime

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said she is a committee member of the 2021 Pride Arts and Awareness Festival, and there are workshops happening in June along with the 2020 exhibition.

Wallace Richmond said it is critical to make sure council is including the LGBTQ community in the conversation, adding that she would be happy to gather feedback on the crosswalks from the Pride festival subcommittee.

Coun. Kevin Flynn referred to Halifax, which he and the mayor had visited for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention. Five rainbow-coloured picnic tables are located in front of city hall there.

“So I think we’re making a mistake looking at just crosswalks. I think we need to look at other options like our benches and like our picnic tables,” Flynn said.

He suggested they wouldn’t be as easy to vandalize as crosswalks.

Council concluded discussions by voting unanimously to have Wallace Richmond gather input from the Pride subcommittee on rainbow crosswalks in the city and any other options council may wish to consider.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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