The idea of painting rainbow-themed sidewalks has cast dark clouds of controvery over municipalities throughout Vancouver Island in recent weeks.
Parksville city council, meanwhile, showed no signs of discord last week as it unanimously approved the city’s second rainbow crosswalk during its regular meeting on June 19.
The motion, submitted by Coun. Teresa Patterson, directs city staff to paint one of the crosswalks near Community Park in rainbow colours, “in the interest of promoting an inclusive and welcoming community for residents and visitors.”
The crosswalk will be paid through council’s contingency fund. Cost is estimated at $5,500.
Previously, council approved a request from the president of the Ballenas Secondary School Gender and Sexuality Alliance for a rainbow crosswalk near the school.
That crosswalk was painted adjacent to Pym Street, across from the school, on June 6, and “received a largely positive response from the community,” said Patterson.
That has not been the case in all Island communities.
After three years of requests from organizers of the community’s Pride Festival, Campbell River this spring approved a temporary, vinyl rainbow across Shopper’s Row, only to see vandals perform burnouts over the installation.
In Port Alberni, a temporary rainbow crosswalk was placed for Pride Week this year, but some members of council were reluctant to commit public funds to a permanent crosswalk if it was just going to be the target of vandalism. Afterward, two councillors independently started a crowd-funding campaign, which quickly raised the money required. Final approval is still awaiting council.
And in the Cowichan Valley, a letter to the local newspaper critical of the concept of a rainbow crosswalk on religious grounds was met with a firestorm of angry responses, prompting an apology from the paper for publishing the original letter.