Rainbow crosswalks are not the way to go in Delta.
The Community Livability Advisory Committee last Thursday agreed with a draft staff report to instead try a different route to promote diversity and inclusiveness, recommending the city have benches with rainbow colours and informational plaques at community centres.
“It’s signaling out a group, that’s the point. When a group has been marginalized for decades, this is the time to recognize them,” said committee member Brian Kirkbride.
During their discussion the committee was largely in agreement that rainbow crosswalks are prone to being easily vandalized and that benches would be a good way to set Delta apart. However, the committee also agreed that, moving forward, Aboriginal people should also be included in a design that may have the rainbow colours but not necessarily the stripe pattern.
Kay Dennison said, “We’re saying this is a diverse community and we recognize all.”
Deb Jones agreed, saying a simple message of “celebrating diversity” should be included to encompass everyone.
Having rainbow crosswalks was one of the suggestions brought forward this year by Sher Vancouver, a non-profit group founded in North Delta supporting LGBTQ South Asians and their friends and families.
Sharing ideas to increase support for LGBTQ people in Delta, Alex Sangha said the Sher Vancouver board of directors requested the city celebrate diversity and inclusion by creating rainbow and transgender crosswalks, rainbow benches in public parks, pride flag banners on street lights and work on a strategic plan to support LGBTQ people.
The pride flags at Ladner United Church were vandalized last month.
A staff response at the time noted Delta’s Social Profile indicates a need for planning contributions from the LGBTQ community. Council agreed to forward the request to new Community Livability Advisory Committee for review and advisement.
Committee members agreed a contest for future designs is a good idea, something that includes Delta students taking part.
Fellow committee member Kathleen Higgins was the lone vote in opposition to the staff recommendation, saying it seems to single out and promote a specific group.
In less than two weeks vandals twice defaced a pride flag at Ladner United Church last month.
When news broke of the first flag being defaced, there was a collective outcry of anger and frustration from throughout the community with Mayor George Harvie saying the community will not tolerate such acts.
The City of Delta then joined Delta police and Delta fire to raise a pride flag for the first time at municipal hall, while the Delta School District did the same.
At Thursday’s committee meeting, chair Coun. Dylan Kruger said it’s important that the city moves to respond to such hatred, but it’s also important that the response has follow through and isn’t hollow. Delta’s own policies must be reflective of promoting diversity and inclusion, he said.
Gillian McLeod, the city’s social planner, assured that work will be done in all areas.
Tsawwassen First Nation elder Ruth Adams was in attendance at the meeting and congratulated it for wanting to city to move forward on initiatives.
“It starts with education for our children. Young people, but seniors too, are still scared to come out. We also need to show all the new immigrants to this country it’s all right to be different,” said Adams.
The committee also agreed with a motion by the co-chair, Coun. Jeannie Kanakos, to ask council to set aside a budget of $10,000-to-$15,000 annually for ongoing diversity initiatives.