Jasper Council debates rainbow crosswalk

by EVAN MATTHEWS

A year after Valemount Council rejected the idea for a rainbow crosswalk — a symbol of inclusiveness for the LGBTQ2 community — Jasper’s Council is debating many of the same issues.

The rainbow crosswalk proposal was put forward by OUT Jasper, an organization that supports LGBTQ2 rights.

OUT Jasper says they have fundraised a total of $7,500 to pay for the installation and maintenance of the crosswalk.

A report to Council from Town staff estimates an installation cost of $2,500 for the crosswalk depending on amount of paint. Yearly maintenance costs would be on top of that.

At least one Jasper councillor questioned the need for a rainbow crosswalk, as reported in the Fitzhugh. The councillor said while the crosswalk is meant to be inclusive, endeavours like this can become divisive.

The same councillor made note of the precedent the crosswalk would set in reference to other groups wanting their own crosswalk.

Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland has publicly supported the LGBTQ2 community and the crosswalk, but he acknowledged the councillor’s perspective, according to local media.

The recommendation from the Town of Jasper staff is for Council to support the installation of a rainbow crosswalk, according to a report. Council was scheduled to make a decision Jul. 18, after the Goat’s presstime.

The Town of Jasper already festoons Connaught Drive with rainbow flags during Jasper Pride Festival. The festival attracts people from across Canada and took place this year from Mar. 9 to 12.

Interestingly, the Town of Jasper used the image rendering of Valemount’s rejected rainbow crosswalk in its report, and references this drawing as being the design preference of OUT Jasper.

Valemount’s crosswalk had been proposed by local Mandy McMinn as a symbol of inclusivity.

Then-CAO of Valemount Mark Macneill cited the potential cost — estimated by him to be as high as $10,000 plus maintenance — and challenges pertaining to liability as the main drawbacks.

Valemount Council voted unanimously to reject the crosswalk.

Since that time, a facebook group of crosswalk supporters has carried on to discuss other possibilities, but so far none have come to fruition.

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