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Bonavista Peninsula and Clarenville area town councils weighing in on inclusion

A rainbow crosswalk in St. Johns.
A rainbow crosswalk in St. Johns. - file photo

CLARENVILLE, N.L. — A vote against a symbol of unity and inclusion has sparked controversy and discussion across the province.

On April 9, Springdale town council voted against a proposal from Indian River High School’s Gender Sexuality Alliance to paint a rainbow crosswalk outside the school.

Painting a rainbow crosswalk is a common way for towns to voice their solidarity with the LGBTQ community.

Clarenville Mayor Frazer Russell says that he would have no problem painting a rainbow crosswalk in Clarenville — if it were to be requested.

“I see no reason why it couldn’t be,” he said, adding that it would be no problem as long as it was done within the proper street marking regulations.

He says that it’s difficult to gauge council’s response, and certainly can’t speak for other members, but for himself, he says he would be fine with the idea.

As of now, no request has been made that he is aware of.

He added that if a group wanted to see a rainbow crosswalk, they would have to put in a request to public works.  Public works would then make a recommendation to council, who would vote on the issue.

Shelly Blackmore, Mayor of Trinity Bay North, says council would treat such a request on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.

Blackmore doesn’t know of any request for a crosswalk in TBN, and she says if a group wished to see one, they would have to submit a letter to council. Or, they could invite a councillor to a group meeting and provide them with a letter in that manner.

In Bonavista, Mayor John Norman laughed at the mere of idea of denying a group this type of recognition when asked if his town would accommodate an inclusive gesture like a rainbow crosswalk or pride flag.

“With me as mayor, there would be absolutely no issue,” he told The Packet. “We’re actively trying to encourage inclusion throughout the community.”

While, in the time since Norman was elected mayor this past September, the town hasn’t received any requests for some type of inclusion-based effort, he adds the Town of Bonavista already likes to think if itself as a pretty inclusive community — having no problem with these types of gestures.

For Port Blandford, the community has no crosswalks to paint, however, Mayor Chad Holloway says if a group wanted to show solidarity to a cause or group, such as by erecting a flag, they would have to submit a letter to town hall, which would be addressed by council.

“We’d look at the town policies and make an educated decision based on the information presented,” explained Holloway.

Meanwhile, Springdale town council is reviewing its decision.

Random Island Academy guidance counselor says minority groups need representation

RANDOM ISLAND, NL — Random Island Academy guidance counselor Lynn Hiscock says acts such as painting a crosswalk — which require little funding or municipal government man hours— show the LGBTQ community they are a valued part of the community.

She says it’s important to express solidarity with the LGBTQ community who, like minority groups in the past, face obstacles that many in society do not.

“(Springdale council deciding to take) no action can send a message,” she said of the recent decision to vote against the painting of the crosswalk immediately outside Indian River High School.


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