British Columbia

Chilliwack council rejects petition to install rainbow crosswalk

"You cannot change attitudes by painting crosswalks," said Coun. Sue Knott during a council meeting Tuesday.

All but one councillor voted in favour of denying the request

A pedestrian walks across a rainbow-coloured crosswalk in Seattle in 2015. Chilliwack councillors said Tuesday that a similar crosswalk in the community would be a divisive feature rather than a unifying one.  (Jordan Stead/The Associated Press)

Chilliwack city council has rejected a request to install a rainbow crosswalk in the city's downtown. 

In a meeting Tuesday, all but one councillor voted in favour of denying a petition for the crosswalk, which had the support of 780 signatures and letters.

"You cannot change attitudes by painting crosswalks," said Coun. Sue Knott during the meeting. 

"When it comes to painting rainbows, a rainbow on a crosswalk, or baby feet, crosses, anti-immigration or anything else, it becomes a political statement," she added.

Coun. Harv Westeringh echoed Knott's comments, saying the crosswalk was a divisive factor rather than a unifying one for the community. 

"For me, is, where would it end?" said Coun. Bud Mercer on Tuesday. "I noticed we got one application or one email that the line was a pro-life crosswalk and I think that that's just the first of many that we're going to receive." 

Despite Mayor Ken Popove having expressed his support for the idea at first, he said he had to "take a stand back" and look at the precedent that would be set. 

Council referred back to a policy passed in 2017, which stated Chilliwack will not authorize decoration on city crosswalks supporting political or religious movements. 

"This means we got more work to do," said Coun. Jason Lum, who was the only council member to vote against the motion. "And that we put our heads down and see if we can start to work to build consensus and support for tolerance in this community."

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