File photo Crews worked to remove graffiti that was spray-painted on the new rainbow crosswalk at Five Corners in White Rock in August of last year. City council is revisiting the original proposal, which would add two other rainbow crosswalks at the intersection.

Extension of rainbow crosswalk at White Rock’s Five Corners to be examined

Pride society points to original discussion of three crosswalks at the intersection

White Rock city staff are to report back to council on the options – and costs – for painting rainbows at two more crosswalks at Five Corners.

In a presentation to council April 8, White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen used the city’s video recording of a council meeting last year to point out that council’s original intention – as voiced by then-mayor Wayne Baldwin – was to paint all three Five Corners crosswalks in rainbow colours as “a symbol of inclusiveness and tolerance for all members of society.”

Only one crosswalk was painted last year, and Klassen was asking “to request the completion of the crosswalk as was promised to this society…that all three crosswalks at Five Corners would be a rainbow crosswalk.”

The aim is to have the work complete in time for the city’s annual rainbow-flag raising at city hall in late July in which the society has again asked to be involved (as well as organizing its own second annual Love Is Love dinner-fundraiser event for the following day).

Council unanimously endorsed Coun. Helen Fathers’ motion that staff re-examine extending the rainbow to include all three crosswalks.

But in response to a question from Fathers, who had noted the conflict between the former mayor’s comments and the motion subsequently adopted last year, chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill said, “there was a lot of conversation… that was one mayor making a comment. There was some discussion, then what I heard was, let’s at least move forward with a crosswalk.”

Bottrill said painting further rainbow crosswalks was a funding issue that was at the discretion of council. He said that painting the crosswalk, rather than using thermo-plastic to create the rainbow as originally suggested, was part of an intent to move forward “and get it done as quickly as it could… in time for an event that occurred in that year.”

Director of engineering and municipal operations Jim Gordon told council that the cost of the painted crosswalk to the city last year was some $22,000, while Bottrill said that thermo-plastic options would be even more expensive.

In May of 2018, members of the White Rock Pride Society, including Klassen, Louise McKnight and McKnight’s mother-in-law, Ruth Allard, had come to council to request permission to fundraise $4,000 for the painting of a rainbow crosswalk in the city.

Instead, they were surprised when Baldwin proposed council support painting of the crosswalks at the city’s expense.

In his remarks at that time, Baldwin – after being told the preferred location would be Five Corners – said, “so… like three crosswalks.”

He went on to say: “I really appreciate you coming forward to volunteer to raise money for it, but I think this is something the city should be doing.”

Council went on to unanimously endorse then-councillor Lynne Sinclair’s motion to paint the “Five Corners crosswalk immediately.”

Klassen noted that Allard, who passed away recently, had been a strong advocate of the society, which represents the city’s LGBTQ community, since her grandson Jesse is gay.

“We’re here in honour of her memory, because she was just thrilled to be part of our presentation last year and to be part of the formation of this group,” he said.

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