A rainbow crosswalk on Minoru Boulevard was approved by Richmond city council on Monday night with only Coun. Chak Au voting against it.
After almost two hours of public input during which about 25 people spoke against it and a few spoke for it, several councillors spoke with emotion in support of the crosswalk that will be created to recognize the LGBTQ2S community in time for Pride Week at the end of July.
Arguments from the public included concerns about the process, the expense of $15,000 to taxpayers and that it will cause disharmony in the community. Some brought up the possibility of the rainbow crossing causing distractions and therefore being unsafe for traffic and pedestrians, something that staff later said there is no data to support.
Ivan Pak, who ran for school board on an anti-SOGI platform and is running in the federal election for the People’s Party of Canada banner, argued against the crosswalk, and said he refused to call it a rainbow because it only had six colours, not seven.
In the end, all councillors except Au supported the rainbow crosswalk.
Au argued that if this were approved, other groups would come forward with requests. He put three different motions forward to create a policy around requests to council from special interest groups in public places and for Richmond to create its own symbol of diversity and inclusiveness, but none were seconded by other councillors.
He also pointed out that the item had come up on a Friday before the initial discussion on the following Monday’s general-purposes meeting.
He said a positive endorsement will leave a “bad taste” with those who disagree, causing a division in the community.
Coun. Harold Steves said the message of the rainbow crosswalk will be that Richmond is inclusive and caring; in addition, he pointed out “discrimination against LGBTQ is against the law.”
“I don’t see how we can’t support the rainbow (crosswalk),” he said.
Other councillors cited human rights issues and discrimination faced by the LGBTQ2S community. Coun. Michael Wolfe said, as a high school teacher, he knows students who are fearful of going home as they’re not accepted because of their sexual orientation.
Coun. Bill McNulty said the issue is about “our sons and daughters, our friends and neighbours,” adding that “it’s okay to be yourself.”