Rainbow Pier in British Columbia City Sparks Petition Seeking Return to ‘Previous State’

Rainbow Pier in British Columbia City Sparks Petition Seeking Return to ‘Previous State’

Controversy has erupted in a small British Columbia town over a pier in Pride colors.

This week, the District of Clearwater announced it had spent just over $2,200 staining part of a dock on Dutch Lake, which is within the city limits.

On its website and Facebook page, the district said it was disclosing how much was spent and why it was done to provide transparency and combat misinformation spread online.

“The Dutch Lake dock was recently updated with new rainbow-dyed boards to show support for our local Pride group, Valley Pride, and to reflect our commitment to inclusivity as outlined in the District of Clearwater’s strategic plan ” reads a page on the city’s website.

“Contrary to what is mistakenly said, the boards were not simply painted; “They were stained with environmentally friendly, low-VOC deck stains and installed with new hardware.”

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The district said the project was funded entirely through its parks operating budget.

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In response to the stained dock, an online petition was started asking the district to restore the dock to its previous state.

Kalen Jones, executive director of the Valley Pride Society, says he was surprised to see the pier become a topic of conversation.

“I knew there would be some backlash, and I’m pretty sure the mayor and council knew it too,” Jones told Global News, adding that a rainbow project has been in the works for the past few years.

Originally, a crosswalk was going to be painted, but it became part of the lake dock.

“It meant a lot because of where it was,” Jones said of Clearwater’s decision to stain the pier. “It’s such a public statement of diversity. And (the district) is showing it.”

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The fact that the controversy is occurring at the beginning of Pride Month is not lost on Jones, although he noted that the pier has already been vandalized.

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“It definitely is (circumstance). I don’t think it was planned,” Jones said. “Crosswalks take a lot of time and you have to wait for contractors and the right weather, prep work, clear roads and all that kind of stuff.

“When (the dock) came up, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s actually a quick and easy idea.’ And we expected them to destroy it because it’s so new.

“And sure enough, on the second or third day I hadn’t even finished staining it and it was already being vandalized (with spray paint).”

Jones added that it’s a good first step “because it’s pretty easy to re-attach a board or turn it over instead of fixing a $5,000 mural or a $6,000 crosswalk.”

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Clearwater’s mayor also publicly backed the decision, saying the city has only had a visible Pride movement for a few years.

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“Council approved the rainbow pier as a public symbol of inclusion and diversity. We need everyone to feel safe and that they can belong here,” Merlin Blackwell told Global News.

The mayor added, “Because we went so long without that organized presence of an LGBTQ2+ group, I think Clearwater is finally having a conversation with itself that happened in many communities before us.”

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