'This community gets it': St. Stephen council approves rainbow crosswalk

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In an emergency meeting, the St. Stephen town council passed a motion today to have a rainbow crosswalk painted by the Gay-Straight Alliance from St. Stephen Middle School, which had faced opposition by the council.

The council voted 4-2 in favour of the crosswalk.

The rainbow crosswalk almost didn't happen after at least one town council member said he would not support the crosswalk.

The council, at the time, asked for more information, a request that immediately stirred up social media.

Many people questioned what other information council would need about a request from young students for crosswalk they say symbolizes a welcoming, inclusive community. 

At the time, Coun. Marg Harding said she was surprised by the push-back. She said it seems like the idea was a 'slam dunk.'

"I was the only councillor who spoke up in favour of it," she said.

Three students in particular felt strongly about showing their support.

"Because representation of any group is always necessary especially if they are a minority," said Grace Lindsay

"A lot of my friends are part of the LGBTQ community, it is important to me that they feel secure," said Kirsten Dolland.

Plan backfired

In response to council hesitation to allow the crosswalk to be painted, a march was organized 

Lindsay said she was marching for respect and love.

More than 300 people marched Monday in a pride parade to express support to LGBT community and the gay-straight alliance.

Mayor Allan MacEachern told CBC News the crosswalk would be coming in the next few days. He said the town wants to paint it before it gets too cold.

"I want to the town to get back to respectful town I thought it was," MacEachern said.

He said he has learned a lot over the past few days. 

But MacEachern said he also wants to move on. 

"I had to put it to bed, there is too much fighting on both sides," he said. 

But it was a community effort which made the most impact.

Sue Weatherby, one of the organizer of the march, said she saw the commotion on Facebook about the crosswalk and decided to do something.

"This could not have gone better, I'm glad there was a little bit of controversy," Weatherby said. 

She is glad people are actually having a conversation about supporting the LGBT community and said its helping to change people's minds. 

"Seeing all the youth here today and hearing from some of them and having some of the biggest hugs in my life and knowing what that meant to them, I am beyond happy."

Another organizer said he was happy that they voted to approve the crosswalk but said there is more work to be done about a message of inclusivity.

Vern Faulkner said the march was hastily organized but it turned out well.

"To me, that says this community gets it," he said. "This community needs diversity."