As a taxpayer and resident of Niagara-on-the-Lake, I would like to comment on a controversial issue that has been a subject of local discussion for some time.
This is the suggested installation of a permanent rainbow crosswalk on public property, made without public approval, in NOTL's heritage district.
This has been advocated by a representative of OUTniagara and it is argued that a permanent crosswalk is necessary in NOTL to promote a more positive society and to increase economic prosperity through greater LGBTQ tourism. No thought appears to have been given to gauge local majority opinion.
Setting aside all of the unproven and arguable claims made by OUTniagara in support of the case, the argument is reduced to just two basic issues.
1. Taken as a first step, with others yet to follow, it is suggested that in order to be progressive, a permanent and highly visible rainbow crosswalk should be painted on public property, without public approval or acceptance, so as to be seen as a public endorsement and celebration of a minority lifestyle, and that it is necessary to increase prosperity through LGBTQ tourism.
Without the benefit of any reliable survey of public opinion, this is a simple case of arrogance and may not be acceptable to the majority of residents. It is also quite a different issue from common acceptance of the lifestyle which already exists.
2. It is also claimed that there are material benefits to branding NOTL as a community that endorses the LGBTQ lifestyle and this is used to support the argument.
These alleged benefits do not appear to be based on any credible or recognized local economic analysis that I see as being necessary in what is a unique and historical location and destination.
Again, this may not be the opinion of the majority of residents, most of whom are residents of NOTL for reasons other than the possible economic benefits of increased LGBTQ tourism and are probably not interested in the U.S. surveys or studies that are referred to.
In my opinion, unless it can be shown otherwise, NOTL is just as welcoming and inclusive a community as any other, without the additional need for symbols and this is another attempt to have NOTL endorse and embrace a lifestyle that the majority of residents, while accepting of the reality, are not necessarily willing to endorse.
This is not an assault on the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community but it is a criticism of the dishonesty that seems to me to be inherent in a minority argument that ignores the importance of majority opinion.
It is a simple matter of principle and is the basis of my argument, that the acceptance or otherwise of a permanent crosswalk on public property should be determined only by the majority of taxpaying residents.
Editor’s Note: As articulated in previous editorials, this view does not represent the views of The Lake Report or its staff. We see a rainbow crosswalk as a simple, affordable way to show appreciation and inclusion to NOTL’s LGBTQ+ community. Mr. Collins suggests the push for a crosswalk is a minority argument, but also uses a lack of reliable data to support his argument. There is no data to suggest the crosswalk idea is a minority opinion. As for intolerance in NOTL, some could construe these arguments as evidence of such attitudes.