Just this past week, I woke up two separate mornings listening to the CBC’s local newscast.
Valemount made the cut as a topic of discussion on both days — with council’s decision to reject the rainbow crosswalk, and its subsequent decision to refuse CBC media access.
At one point before responding to CBC, Mayor Townsend told The Goat that CBC never tried to contact her, but a reporter from CBC contacted The Goat directly with phone records showing they placed calls not only to the Village, but to the mayor’s personal phone.
Then Townsend went on record.
Aside from that, rejecting a rainbow crosswalk isn’t something we should want the town’s name attached to. It’s really a shame, and honestly quite sad.
CBC quoted the Village’s Mark Macneill on saying the same things they’ve said to local media — biggest reason for the crosswalk’s rejection is the cost — up to $10,000 in maintenance annually.
But yet, how do so many other communities afford it?
Frank Armitage, mayor of Princeton, B.C., told The Goat: Princeton paid only $2,000 for its rainbow crosswalk, and $0 since in maintenance. Granted, in the last year the crosswalk has faded, he says, but I don’t recall anyone ever asking council for this to be a forever kind-of-deal.
Even though our crosswalk is cobblestone as opposed to asphalt, does the type of paint really matter if it is going to fade anyway? If we did decide to keep the crosswalk for more than a year, an annual painting could be a very cool and proud way of bringing the entire community together.
Could the crosswalk not have been tried as a pilot? If and when the maintenance is too much, could we not just stop? I thought the Village just ran a surplus.
And then there is the letter to council from Shaun, a homosexual man living in Valemount. His letter said not all of the LGBTQ2 community supports the crosswalk, and he was of the belief the crosswalk would cause more divisiveness than acceptance.
When Mayor Townsend was asked who else, aside from Shaun, did council speak to from the LGBTQ2 community, her answer was that Shaun came to the council, and not the other way around.
Does this mean they didn’t consult anybody within the LGBTQ2 community, and that council heard from Mandy and Gail, and Shaun?
The decision to reject the rainbow crosswalk shows a lack of vision and progress I have only ever seen come out of one place — Steinbach, Manitoba.
Steinbach is the third largest city in Manitoba with roughly 14,000 people. The community has a prominent Mennonite population, and a Mennonite and German influence.
Recently members of Steinbach’s public decided to have the city’s very first LGBTQ Pride Parade. Local MP Ted Falk, MLA Kevin Goertzen and Mayor Chris Goertzen all skipped the event due to “previous engagements,” and council would not endorse the event.
At one point Falk said, “Even without a scheduling conflict, my decision to not attend would be the same. I’ve been clear on this issue many times, and have made my position public on my values of faith, family and community.”
The gay “lifestyle” differs from his own.
Which is fine, right?
Ted Falk is an elected official, not any different than Valemount’s mayor, Jeannette Townsend.
When a voter base elects you, your job is to represent them, not to do what’s in the best interest of your own values — whether it be faith, family, community, or all.
So how did the Steinbach Pride Parade turn out?
While no big-name politicians or businesses supported the cause, many members of the public showed up to support the LGBTQ2 community, 4,000 strong in fact.
Whether or not the politicians of the Steinbach community run for re-election and win remains to be seen, but at least the LGBTQ2 community knows there is a portion of the population that does in fact support them — a third of Steinbach’s voter base.
And since council’s decision to reject the rainbow crosswalk, Valemount’s community has stepped up.
Fifty people strong showed up to chalk the proposed, now rejected, rainbow crosswalk last week. People young and old, homosexual and straight, of all different races and religions, made an appearance to show support for an ostracized and oppressed community.
While portions of the Village administration disagree, Valemount’s community should know there is a group of people who love and support them no matter of race, religion, sexual orientation or value systems.
People are people. Love is love.
It’s an honest to god shame that the inclusion of all people can still be debated, and squashed by an uncompromising and inadaptable administration.
Valemount — more so its administration — missed an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the people of the LGBTQ2 community.
It would have been really nice to hear the CBC talking about Valemount as a spot of inclusiveness, rather than closing the door on human rights to save a buck.
I hope Valemount can show its LGBTQ2 community we support them by having our first pride parade, here, next year.