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Residents ask Quinte West council to switch up colours on rainbow crosswalks

City council in Quinte West, Ont., has asked its diversity, equity and inclusion committee to review a request made by a public delegation Wednesday to rotate the colours on its rainbow crosswalks — and thus show support for other groups. (Shutterstock / Marc Bruxelle - image credit)
City council in Quinte West, Ont., has asked its diversity, equity and inclusion committee to review a request made by a public delegation Wednesday to rotate the colours on its rainbow crosswalks — and thus show support for other groups. (Shutterstock / Marc Bruxelle - image credit)

Should rainbow crosswalks — highly visible symbols of support for the LGBTQ+ community — be permanent parts of the urban landscape? Or should their colours be rotated to show solidarity with other groups?

That was the crux of a discussion Wednesday night at a council meeting in Quinte West, Ont., much to the surprise of one local LGBTQ+ advocate.

"I think there's some misunderstanding in terms of what the rainbow represents," said Stacey Love-Jolicoeur, chair of Bay of Quinte Pride, on CBC Radio's All In A Day on Thursday afternoon.

"When I see a rainbow crosswalk or a rainbow flag or a rainbow anything, I think of diversity."

At Wednesday's council meeting, resident Dana Rogalsky argued that having rainbow crosswalks year-round "may appear to only welcome the LGBTQ+ segment our population."

"I think we can agree that all people are to be treated with respect and dignity," said Rogalsky, telling council she was speaking on behalf of a delegation that included Muslims, Christians, Québécois and others.

"Having the rainbow crosswalks displayed for 12 months of the year is not inclusive to other segments of our community."

Instead, Rogalsky suggested rotating the colours each month. A green crosswalk could show solidarity with protesters in Iran, she said, while a blue and yellow crosswalk could welcome Ukrainian refugees.

An orange, black and white crosswalk would be a way to reflect the "Every Child Matters" movement, she added. The rainbow crosswalks could be part of that rotation appearing during Pride month, Rogalsky said.

Quinte West/YouTube
Quinte West/YouTube

None of the councillors who spoke outright opposed the idea, aside from raising concerns about the cost of repainting the crosswalks so frequently.

Several suggested ways to welcome all people to Quinte West, from adding pleasant messages to the backs of the town's signs and lighting up local bridges to designing a unifying emblem of inclusivity, similar to a national flag.

At least one councillor was in favour of not having any special-coloured crosswalks at all, in part because some drivers had reported confusing the rainbow crosswalks with speed bumps.

Diversity committee to review request

Love-Jolicoeur said she was taken aback that the conversation of eliminating year-round rainbow crosswalks came up Wednesday night, given they'd already been in place for several years.

She said Quinte West should instead look at "other opportunities of showing diversity and inclusion as well."

In the end, council asked the city's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee to review the request.

In a statement, the City of Quinte West said it was "committed to ensuring that our community is welcoming and inclusive to all."

"The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee will provide advice, feedback and recommendations to council," it said in part.

"Quinte West council and staff look forward to engaging with members of this committee to continue the city's representation and inclusion efforts."