News (World)

Town votes to ban Pride crosswalks. Its only rainbow crosswalk will be removed.

Town votes to ban Pride crosswalks. Its only rainbow crosswalk will be removed.
Photo: Screenshot CTV News

On Thursday in Westlock in Alberta, Canada, residents voted by a razor-thin margin to permit only federal, provincial and municipal flags on municipal buildings in the tiny farming town, and a Pride-painted crosswalk be removed from the intersection in front of city hall.

The vote was 663 in favor, 639 opposed.

The question put before residents, who traveled to the rural village’s community hall yesterday to vote, read: “Do you agree that: only federal, provincial and municipal flags may be flown on flagpoles on Town of Westlock municipal property; all crosswalks in the Town of Westlock must be the standard white striped pattern between two parallel white lines; and the existing rainbow colored crosswalk in the Town of Westlock be removed.”

The proposed bylaw came before voters after installation of the Pride crosswalk by a local gay-straight alliance. Soon after, a petition circulated calling for “neutrality” in public spaces, and removal of the crosswalk.

Signatures from ten percent of Westlock’s 5000 residents brought the petition before the town council.

The council, however, didn’t support the petition demands, leading to the plebiscite, or direct community vote.

On Thursday evening, Westlock’s mayor, Jon Kramer, reiterated the council’s support for equity and inclusion.

“Council did not support the proposed Crosswalk and Flagpole bylaw, as we felt it went against our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion,” the mayor said in a statement to media after the vote.

“This plebiscite is binding, and as such, the bylaw does restrict how we are able to show this commitment. However, we will continue to find ways to embrace those in our community who need a helping hand, including marginalized groups. Equity is the reason we require wheelchair accessible parking; it is why we are developing an accessible playground; and yes, it is the reason we show support to marginalized groups like our local 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“That won’t stop, it will just take on a different form.”

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