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May. 25, 2022 | Wednesday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: Make Pride crosswalk happen now

Niagara-on-the-Lake is ahead of the curve in so many ways.

And so behind in others.

This week's story about resident Jordon Williams' efforts to get a rainbow crosswalk installed at the intersection of King and Queen streets is a perfect example of a way that our little "progressive," "friendly" town is behind the times.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the last municipalities in the region to consider a rainbow crosswalk. But, as often happens, the town is enveloping the idea in red tape.

Williams rightly expects that the town will eventually agree to the crosswalk. After all, it's the bare minimum it can do as a welcoming, inclusive gesture to the LGBTQ+ community — both residents and visitors.

The inclusivity committee has recommended it – for 2022, pending input from the heritage committee and Chamber of Commerce. But why wait a year, when all it really takes is laying down some paint? (OK, special paint, maybe. But getting the specs from others who have done it is pretty simple.) Why the bureaucracy?

When it meets on Monday, our town council — and the town administration — should move this kind, caring and inclusive idea forward to see it done before the end of Pride month. This June. Now.

It's entirely doable, as Lord Mayor Betty Disero proved recently by cutting through the red tape around new stop signs in the Village subdivision and just getting it done.

Our town council needs to push to make this symbolic gesture a reality now. Show the world how quickly you can make it so.

Even if the heritage committee and Chamber by rights should have input, let's just do it – and, as with the Village stop signs, sort out the finer details later.

The world has wakened to the countless atrocities committed in the name of a colonial attitude. To send the idea to the heritage committee weeks after the discovery of 215 bodies of Indigenous children at a residential school established by a colonial government, is unfortunately tone deaf. Instead, bypass the processes and make real, positive change.

A Pride crosswalk is an easy way to say to everyone that the town doesn't just accept LGBTQ+ community members, but embraces them.

In a way, it's a symbol of love for every person on the planet. 

As Williams noted, symbols matter. They matter to the trans folks who have alarmingly high suicide rates. They matter to the gay children growing up in conservative, religious and narrow-minded households, who might not realize that the rest of the world is growing up.

Don't delay the gesture. The town is trying to brand itself as an organization that cares about diversity. So, let's play catch up and get it done.

Councillors, let's get some paint on the road. It costs next to nothing and it's the right thing to do.

And if all that isn't enough reason for some people, consider the fact that it's also a great marketing tool for the town — one that is host to a vibrant theatre community and home to many people who deserve to feel proud of being LGBTQ+.

To again quote Williams, "This would be a big step, not the only thing, but a great step forward."