$15K rainbow crosswalk approved by Richmond council
The crosswalk to be painted with rainbow strips is on Minoru Boulevard near City Hall and the Richmond Public Library.
After a lengthy meeting, Richmond city council voted in favour of installing a rainbow crosswalk on a prominent street on Monday night.
The vote passed almost unanimously, with only Coun. Chak Au against the project.
"I think it's important that we engage the public in making a decision like this," he said during the council meeting.
However, before Au spoke and the vote was taken, around 30 members of the public shared their thoughts with council. Most of them were against the crosswalk.
"Can someone paint a big Buddha on the crosswalk? Can someone paint a big cross? Can a Muslim paint Allah on the crosswalk? So if every group comes and ask you, would you entertain them," asked one Richmond resident early in the meeting who said she has been a part of the community for 40 years.
"I am asking you to stay neutral in this matter. Otherwise there will be … chaos when all the interest groups come to council."
Her comments were quickly met by applause from members of the public. This prompted swift criticism from Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie who reminded those attending that "this is a city council meeting" and "there will be no applause."
The discussion then continued with most speakers opposed to the crosswalk, with many saying they did not feel there was adequate consultation.
However a handful of speakers expressed their support.
"I think it's a wonderful symbol to all folks … I don't believe that we should be excluding one group, one ethnicity, one language or another," said one Richmond resident who added that his daughter came out a few years ago.
"It's taken her 30 years to do that so I think a symbol that we have inclusivity across the board in Richmond is important to all young folk who are uncertain of their gender identity."
The idea was first brought to a general purposes committee meeting last week and passed almost unanimously then too, still with only Au against the proposal.
Prior to Monday night's council meeting, Au said he wanted a formal process to be outlined in case proposals like this are made again in the future.
"Somebody may want to have some kind of symbol or crossing for the First Nations for reconciliation and there may be another group saying, 'We have the dragon boat festival coming up so should we have a dragon boat crossing somewhere in Richmond or in Steveston?' And a mental health group may say they want something for the mental health week in October," he told CTV News before the meeting.
"So if we open this door at this time, I can foresee that there might be other groups coming up with requests."
For Coun. Kelly Greene, who voted in favour of the installation, the proposed crosswalk will send an important message.
"I think it's really important that we have a visual symbol that we're a welcoming community for everybody and that they are safe and valued," she said.
The crosswalk, which will cost $15,000, is planned for a busy intersection on Minoru Boulevard near the Richmond Public Library and city hall.