Cochranites are divided after the community groups Cochrane Rainbows and Cochrane Light Up approached council on Sept. 23 and asked that a diversity rainbow crosswalk be installed.
The sentiment is mixed on the Cochrane Eagle's wesbite CochraneTODAY.ca as well as our newspapers’ other social networking services. Based on online comments, residents either applaud the endeavour, balk at the idea as a passing fad, or question council’s priorities.
Assuming taxpayers aren’t burdened with a crosswalk budget shortfall - what’s the concern?
This crosswalk would differ from others that have recently been installed across our province. Cochrane’s rendition will feature 10 colours that will celebrate all areas of community demographics including gender, race, age and sexual orientation to family, political beliefs, religion, income and others. Other rainbow crosswalks have only included the six colours that typify LGTBQ2S+ activism and represent individual identities associated with the pride social movement.
It’s important to note that while the project will be funded by taxpayers, the installation (estimated to cost between $12,000 and $15,000) will be included in Cochrane’s annual crosswalk budget. It’s unclear - at this time - if town council is planning to increase the budget to accommodate this project or if that will be necessary. The organizations who came up with the idea would fundraise to help pay for any vandalism issues that might occur.
The rainbow crossing - if it makes its way to our community - could represent different things to different people. For some, it might be a colourful, bright addition to an otherwise boring black and white surface. For others, it could represent inclusivity and serve as a - sort of - welcome mat to newcomers. The uniqueness of the project’s variance on the traditional rainbow crossing could also boost Cochrane’s progressive reputation. Aren’t these all good things? Nothing about the project should evoke anything but warm fuzzies.
Good things and - well, warm fuzzies could ruffle some feathers. On July 21, Calgary installed its permanent pride and trans crosswalks on Stephen Avenue. In the month that followed, both sites fell victim to acts of vandalism. If anything, Calgary’s experience serves as a reminder that our society hasn’t reached an equilibrium. It's difficult to imagine how a rainbow crossing could evoke such hate.
It’s understandable that some Cochrane residents might be concerned that the project could attract negative attention to our town. While this concern is valid, the feeling shouldn’t envelope our good sense. As citizens of humanity, it's our responsibility to protect and love one another. It’s unlikely that a crosswalk could achieve optimal inclusivity, but it’s a step in the right direction. Initiatives like this one are sparking conversations, raising awareness and might enlighten us that there is more to do.
If you’re only concerned about your tax dollars, then speak to a town councillor.