A crosswalk in the colours of the rainbow flag – a symbol of the LGBTQ community – will soon be spanning Woodland Drive in front of the public library.
Town council approved the idea at its meeting on July 25.
It had been suggested to council by Hay River Pride, which noted that rainbow flag crosswalks have been appearing in some other Canadian cities and towns – including Fort Smith earlier this year – as a way of showing acceptance and support for the LGBTQ community.
Late last week, Mayor Brad Mapes said the idea was accepted by council with 100 per cent support.
“So it wasn’t an issue,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing. We’re moving forward with it. The group is going to co-ordinate getting it all painted up and we can get going on it.”
The mayor said he didn’t hear any objections from the community to the idea.
“So I think it was pretty well received overall,” he said.
Storm Larocque, the co-ordinator of Hay River Pride, made the proposal to council at its July 11 meeting and was in the gallery on July 25 with several supporters of the idea to hear council’s decision.
Larocque said the vote seemed to sneak up and happen very quickly among the other motions being approved by council.
“We all just kind of looked at each other and there was almost like silent screaming because of the excitement,” she said. “If we could have been jumping up and down in that moment we would have been.”
Larocque said she had received positive feedback from councillors who said they were certain the idea would be approved.
“We went in positive that it was going to go through but it was still just super exciting,” she said.
Although the motion was passed without fanfare, Mapes and councillors took the unusual step of inviting Larocque and the other Hay River Pride supporters to pose for a picture after the meeting was concluded. While the guests at the meeting held a banner and a large rainbow flag, the mayor and councillors held smaller versions of the flag.
Afterwards, Larocque and the other supporters of Hay River Pride went for what she described as celebration Slushies – appropriately featuring the colours of the rainbow – at the Super A gas bar and convenience store.
“That’s when we kind of had our big freak out,” she said. “We were kind of jumping around and high-fiving each other.”
Larocque was pleased the council vote was unanimous.
“That was exciting,” she said. “I kind of had doubts but I look at each councillor individually and I see nothing but good in them. So looking back now I’m personally not surprised that it was unanimous and that it went through.”
Larocque was also encouraged there was no controversy among the public.
“It just proves to me how amazing Hay River is,” she said. “I only got one comment on Facebook that was kind of opposed, where it was more like, ‘Oh, I wish the town would spend money on other things rather than this.’ So I responded and let them know that the paint was being donated and that it was being painted by volunteers. And immediately they were in full support of it and they thought it was a great idea.”
The crosswalk is to be painted in its new colours sometime before the annual Hay River Pride event on Aug. 13.
In addition, council approved flying the rainbow flag for all of August on the pole between the old town hall and NWT Centennial Library.