Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay city councillor says she didn't intend to make fun of Australian fires in Facebook posts

Coun. Shelby Ch'ng says she didn’t intend to make light of the raging Australian wildfire situation in Facebook posts where she responded to criticism of the city’s support for a rainbow crosswalk to recognize the LGBTQ community.
Shelby Ch'ng says she didn't intend to make light of the Australian wildfires in Facebook posts responding to local criticism of support by Thunder Bay municipal leaders for a rainbow crosswalk. (Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC)

A Thunder Bay city councillor says she didn't intend to make light of the raging Australian wildfire situation in Facebook posts where she responded to criticism of the city's support for a rainbow crosswalk to recognize the LGBTQ community.

A day after the Thunder Pride Association announced it had reached its fundraising goal to contribute $10,000 to the project while also securing a commitment to cover another one-third of the cost, Coun. Shelby Ch'ng replied to a post that was calling out some social media criticism of the project that insisted the money instead be spent on Australian wildfire relief efforts.

Using her personal Facebook account, Ch'ng first replied to the post saying "SAVE DEASE POOL," referencing the century-old outdoor swimming pool that city council voted to close in December 2018 and has since generated opposition on social media.

"I meant USE Dease pool to save Australia," Ch'ng wrote in a subsequent post.

Ch'ng, when reached by CBC News later Friday, said she regretted mentioning the Australian fires, which have burned more than 100,000 square kilometres and forced thousands of people from their homes.

It's an upsetting situation, she said.

"I had no intent of making light of it. I'm not making fun of it. It was simply a point to illustrate the jump in logic for using Thunder Bay resources to put out a fire in Australia. It wasn't even me that brought up that original point - it was a commenter who was bashing the crosswalk," Ch'ng said.

"If anything, the idea that we would even use Dease Pool to put out the fires I thought was ridiculous and everybody else would see it as ridiculous. It turns out the joke didn't land. It's not funny."