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Resident requests coloured crosswalk for Pride

Town of Barrhead councillors will vote May 24, when mayor is back in attendance
Caitlin Clarke may 10, 2022-r
Caitlin Clarke, an ally of Barrhead's LGTBQ+ community, asked town councillors on May 10 for permission for a group of volunteers to paint one of the town's Main Street crosswalks in rainbow colours in recognition of Pride Month in June.

BARRHEAD – It is a foregone conclusion.

A crosswalk on Barrhead's Main Street will be painted in rainbow Pride colours as a gesture of inclusivity to the LGTBQ+ community.

The only question is what intersection and when volunteers will paint it.

Resident Caitlin Clarke asked Town of Barrhead councillors during their May 10 meeting for authorization to paint the west side of the intersection at Main Street and 50th Ave. in rainbow colours in early June on behalf of the community's LGTBQ+ population.

"I am here before council to consider for a public, intentional and explicit show of an allyship for the LGBTQ+ community," she said.

June is Pride month, in commemoration of the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. Pride Month is also about celebrating diversity and inclusion and ending the prejudice and inequality members of the LGTBQ+ community face.

The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous demonstrations by members of the LGTB+ community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City's lower Manhattan.

Although councillors overwhelmingly supported Clarke's request, they tabled the decision until their May 24 meeting so the vote could be unanimous. Mayor Dave McKenzie was absent.

Clarke said the LGTBQ+ community has made several strides in gaining rights most Canadians take for granted, such as the right to marry and have their correct sexual identity displayed on their birth certificate, but it is easy to forget about the gains the community has made and continue to face in Barrhead.

"Where sexuality that differs from hetero and gender expression that is different than allotted at birth is not necessarily talked about openly in all circles," she said.

However, Clarke said that she and other allies are hoping to create a safe place to gather and make themselves known.

She added several other communities including St. Albert, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge, have painted a portion of their crosswalks in rainbow colours.

"It is an easy to assemble symbol and it is an acknowledgement of queer community in our larger community and the importance of their contributions in making Barrhead a kind, welcoming, municipality that we know it can be," Clarke said.

She added a group of about a dozen have volunteered to paint the crosswalk and purchase all of the necessary supplies, suggesting June 4 for its official unveiling.

Coun. Dave Sawatzky said it was a great idea, but suggested an intersection higher up on Main Street would be more appropriate due to increased visibility.

He also asked how the group would handle potential vandalism, as seen, unfortunately, in several other communities.

Clarke replied that she chose the location after consulting with chief administrative officer Edward LeBlanc.

Later in the meeting, LeBlanc said public works informed it was a maintenance issue, saying the paint would better adhere to a flat surface.

She replied that volunteers would paint over any graffiti, quickly, guaranteeing that for Pride Month it would be done within 48 hours.

Smith also voiced his support, agreeing with Sawatzky that it should be at a more visible intersection, suggesting one of the crosswalks at the four-way stop.

Coun. Klumph also supported the request, noting the colours of the rainbow symbolized inclusivity for all, not just the LGTBQ+ community.

"The rainbow comes from the same place (white light), we are all the same and together," he said. "I come from the Christian perspective. God gave the rainbow as a sign that he wasn't going to destroy the world with another flood. For me, it is a sign of peace and goodwill."

He also suggested that the LGTBQ+ community should consider rebranding the overly long acronym.

"It is long and cumbersome. It also has a negative connotation," Klumph said, suggesting not heterosexual or NO. "It is fairly simple."

Clarke said, as a heterosexual ally, she did not want to speak for the LGTBQ+ community, but noted that the acronym doesn't necessarily have the same negative stigmatism for the lesbian, gay, transgender, bi-sexual, or questioning community or the younger generation.

Klumph then suggested tabling the decision until the next council meeting.

"It's not that we don't support this," said Coun. Ty Assaf. "It would look better to have the seven of us vote in favour. It shows the community that we are all united."


Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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