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BC  

Somewhere over rainbow

A decision by Merritt city council to reject a proposed rainbow crosswalk has led community members to offer other locations for the colourful symbol of inclusion, says a high school teacher involved in the project.

Students in LGBTQ and Indigenous clubs at Merritt Secondary have been planning for years to have a crosswalk painted, but when the school district took the proposal to the city last week it was voted down by council.

Teacher Kati Spencer said she and the students were disappointed and frustrated at first.

"I had some righteous anger. Let's put it that way," she said. "We had so much support from the school board ... we took it for granted that it was going to happen."

The school district offered to pay for the rainbow's installation and upkeep, and city staff recommended that council approve the proposal.

Mayor Neil Menard told council he was concerned that approving the rainbow crosswalk would set a precedent for other groups such as the hockey team and Rotary Club to request sidewalks or crosswalks be painted to reflect their organizations.

"That's their lifestyle and that's all well and good, but they don't have to take that ... and make it obvious within the community, and push it on everybody else," he said.

While students may have lost the battle for the crosswalk, their efforts have gained wider support, Spencer said.

A house across the street from the school has been adorned with rainbow curtains, a bakery offered to make rainbow cookies to take to city hall, and a store began painting a rainbow outside its property.

Lawyers Kyla Lee and Paul Doroshenko also offered parking lots they own in the city's downtown core for the students to paint.

Spencer said they intend to make the installation of a rainbow walkway at the school a celebration. They're also going to discuss the parking lot option with the school board and look at collaborating with as many groups as possible.



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