The Pro-Life Society’s flag will not fly downtown nor will it be painted on a crosswalk along Main Street following a decision from Smithers council on June 27.
At the last council meeting on June 13, the society requested that two of their flags be flown on the flag poles that sit on the corner of Main Street and Second Avenue to “promote life-affirming messages” and/or paint their flag on the crosswalk adjacent to the rainbow crosswalk.
The society pointed to the fact that if there is a rainbow crosswalk, there could also be a pro-life one.
However at the June 27 meeting, Mayor Gladys Atrill said as the municipality, it is their job to reflect upon the legislation that guides them.
“The rainbow was to be a symbol of inclusion, to say you’re welcome and safe here,” she said. “And our aspiration is that all are welcomed and safe here. I’m aware, not all people viewed it that way.
“To the question of the pro-life flag or crosswalk, abortion in Canada is legal. And it has been since the late 1960s. It’s regulated as a medical procedure under the Canada Health Act. As such, I’m not in favor of placing symbols in public places, that relate to health procedures, since there are many that are viewed as controversial by some with deep respect to those who believe abortion is wrong.
“The debate over abortion belongs at other tables than this one.”
All of council was on board with the decision to deny the requests.
“While I respect everyone’s right to their opinion, and everyone here probably has a different one. I also feel that erecting a pro-life flag isn’t my idea of an inclusive and caring community,” said councillor Calvin Elliott.
Council received numerous letters from concerned residents, including physicians about the idea. One doctor wrote that if the crosswalk was there, she worried about the recruitment of physicians to the community.
The Pro-Life Society told The Interior News afterward they were ‘naturally disappointed’ in the decision.
A similar request for a pro-life crosswalk was denied in 2015 when Smithers first painted the rainbow crosswalk.