A delegation to request permission to fundraise for a rainbow crosswalk at Five Corners in White Rock was surprised when council offered to foot the bill on the city’s dime.
White Rock BIA president Ernie Klassen, real estate agent Louise McKnight and her mother-in-law, 60-year city resident Ruth Allard, told Peace Arch News they thought they might have to raise some $4,000 to paint a crosswalk at Five Corners in rainbow colours.
Klassen told council it’s well-known the rainbow has historically been the symbol for the LGBT community.
“Lately, though, it represents inclusiveness and diversity,” he noted.
After hearing their presentation, Mayor Wayne Baldwin suggested council support and fund rainbow painting at all three Five Corners crosswalks.
“I really appreciate you coming forward and volunteering to raise money for it, but I think this is something the city should be doing,” the mayor said.
A motion from Coun. Lynne Sinclair to have the crosswalk painted immediately was unanimously endorsed.
“I’m glad to see this stands not just for the traditional rainbow signature, but it also stands for inclusiveness of everything,” Baldwin commented. “We’ve heard earlier about First Nations, so First Nations are included, everybody is included and that’s what it’s all about.”
Klassen, McKnight and Allard told PAN they have been advised the painting of the crosswalks will be complete well in time for the annual July 28 rainbow flag-raising at city hall and a new pride event, hosted by South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg, to be held at the White Rock Elk’s Club on July 28.
Council’s vote will allow them to devote fundraising to PFLAG Canada, the national organization of parents and friends of lesbians and gays, and also to growing White Rock’s annual pride events, they said.
Allard and McKnight said Wednesday they had been inspired to help spearhead the project because McKnight’s son Jesse is gay, and had experienced bullying and ostracization at school in the past.
“His friends were awesome when he came out,” McKnight said. “It was when it got out into the bigger world.”
“I have a grandson who is gay,” Allard had told council Monday evening.
“I remember us going back and forth to school and him saying ‘Grandma, this happened’ and (I’d say), ‘Why didn’t you do something’ and he’d say, ‘well they’ll just take me out behind the school’ – bullying sort of thing.
“It went on and he found his own niche, his friends and what-have-you, and they feel comfortable with niches… but we would like to open it up by having events, and have it totally accepted by the city of White Rock, embracing it.”
“White Rock being the amazing community it is and very diverse, it’s (not only) the emotional support but also the visual support that people can recognize,” McKnight told council.