Anna Ziegler at the Main Street intersection where town council approved installing a rainbow crosswalk after she wrote them a letter to suggest it.

Anna Ziegler at the Main Street intersection where town council approved installing a rainbow crosswalk after she wrote them a letter to suggest it.

Smithers shows pride with rainbow crosswalk

Smithers will wear new stripes after council voted to paint a rainbow crosswalk on Main St last week.

Smithers will wear new stripes as a town that accepts and supports the LGBTQ community after council voted to paint a rainbow crosswalk on Main Street last week.

Council voted to paint the intersection of Main Street and Second Avenue with the iconic rainbow, which symbolizes pride and diversity in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities (LGBTQ).

Smithers is the latest northern community to adopt the symbol, with Terrace and Prince Rupert having already voted in favour of installing them. Kelowna and Victoria already have them.

Canada’s first permanent rainbow crosswalks were painted at the corner of Davie and Bute Streets in Vancouver in 2013.

Last week’s decision to bring the concept to Smithers was made at the suggestion of local woman Anna Zeigler.

In a letter to council, she suggested a rainbow crosswalk would make the town more welcoming.

“I think having a rainbow crosswalk would show our visitors and local alike that everyone, no matter who they are, will be greeted with respect, equality and love; that they do not have to be afraid to be who they are,” she wrote in the letter.

Zeigler told The Interior News she hoped the rainbow would symbolize more than just acceptance and diversity of the LGBTQ community.

“I think the rainbow should be more of a symbol of all colours of humans, be it where you are from, what you identify as, as well as sexual orientation,” she said.

“I think having the rainbow there shows that Smithers, here you are free to be whoever you are.”

Zeigler praised town council for adopting the idea despite the potential for backlash.

She hoped anyone opposed to the crosswalk would adopt her motto to “treat others who you would like to be treated”.

“I just think it’s brave for people who are different from the “norm” to live every day in a predominantly heterosexual world,” said Zeigler.

“It may have taken guts for me to write this letter but it has nothing on the amount of courage and bravery it takes for someone to live every day as their true self.”

Mayor Taylor Bachrach said putting a rainbow crosswalk in the heart of the town showed Smithers was serious about its message.

“The rainbow crosswalk has come to symbolize a community that embraces diversity particularly when it comes to LGBTQ people and I can’t think of a more important message to send the world than one that says Smithers is a place where people can feel safe and included,” he said.

Councillors Frank Wray and Shelley Browne, who voted against the crosswalk, raised questions about the cost of maintenance and whether the crosswalk put too much emphasis on one cause.

Bachrach said the cost would depend on the type of paint and design but he believes the cost will be reasonable.

“Local government is about making decisions about where you invest resources and the other night at council, this is the area we chose to invest a fairly modest amount of resources, just like we invest in other aspects of making our town attractive and safe,” he said.

Perry Rath is the teacher support for the Gender Sexuality Alliance at Smithers Secondary School.

Created locally in 2007, the GSA is a social, support and advocacy group for students who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity.

Rath said members of the group had also been planning to write to council suggesting they install a rainbow crosswalk.

“Seeing that even Terrace over the summer accepted that they would have a rainbow crosswalk, that was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got to make one happen here’,” said Rath.

He said students were excited about having a visual symbol of acceptance of diversity in their town, although there were some concerns.

“Some alumni who were part of the GSA years ago who have since graduated have wondered whether our town is ready for it,” said Rath.

“They are just worried about people understanding it and respecting it but I think to have it is important as a visual symbol.”

Ray Lam is the executive director of the Vancouver Pride Society, which created the original rainbow crosswalk in partnership with the City of Vancouver.

He believes the idea is gaining popularity across Canada because it a quick way of showing support.

Lam said the crosswalk was a form of public art which could raise awareness about what the rainbow symbolizes.

“That’s kind of one of the reasons we put the intersection in, to remind people that the flag has meaning, the colours have different meanings and it is a symbol for the LGBT community and equality and not just a logo,” he said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Smithers Local Health Area reported just one new case of COVID-19 from Feb. 14-20. (BC CDC graphic)
Local weekly COVID infections drop to one

The Smithers Local Health Area (Houston to Witset) reported a single case between Feb. 14 and20

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Smithers Weekly Police Blotter: Feb 12 – 19

Smithers RCMP open 83 new files including 15 property crime cases

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

(Black Press file photo)
Charges laid against two suspects in pre-Christmas home invasion

An 88-year-old woman was hospitalized after being bear-sprayed in the face Dec. 18, 2020

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read