The mayor of Chase says a proposal to paint an Every Child Matters crosswalk that was defeated in a split council vote earlier this month will be brought back for reconsideration.
The proposal was first raised at a Sept. 12 council meeting and was voted down, with two council members voting in favour of installing the crosswalk, and two voting against. One councillor wasn’t present for the vote.
Mayor David Lepsoe told Castanet he thought the proposal would have been a simple project with a big impact.
“It’s always been my priority for the village to work with the other three Secwepemc communities. It just makes sense — we all go to the same schools, we play in the same hockey teams,” Lepsoe said.
He said this had been discussed by Kukpi7 Lynn Kenoras-DuckChief of the Adams Lake Indian Band for over a year.
“It's just a crosswalk, and $650. The biggest thing was, is it’s [the] four of us working together on a project,” he said.
Lepsoe said the total cost for installing the crosswalk would be about $2,500, which would be split equally between the Village of Chase, Adams Lake Indian Band, Nesklonlith Indian Band and Skwalax te Secwepemcul’ecw, each paying $625.
He said he believes the community wants the project.
According to a report prepared for the Sept. 12 meeting, staff proposed the crosswalk be painted on the west crossing of the intersection at Shuswap Avenue and Chase Street.
“After such a difficult August, the placement of an Every Child Matters crosswalk will provide a sense of optimism for many in the four communities,” the report said.
Staff gathered information from the Village of Keremeos and the City of Kamloops before putting forward the proposal.
The report indicates the City of Kamloops budgeted $2,500 for the initial installation, including labour and equipment, and $2,500 for maintenance.
When asked why he thought the project was opposed, Lepsoe said the two councillors would have to be asked directly.
In a Sept. 21 statement titled “No Truth and Reconciliation in Chase,” Kenoras-DuckChief said the three Secwepemc bands and the Village of Chase have been meeting for over a year to implement a project together.
“Mayor Lepsoe visited my office and despite the wildfire trauma, Adams Lake agreed to share cost with VOC for a $2,500 Every Child Matters crosswalk in Chase,” she said.
“To our dismay, the VOC voted against the project citing costs and maintenance despite our willingness to share those costs.”
She said reconciliation is not an Indigenous project, it is a Canadian project, and noted non-Indigenous Canadians must work towards meaningful and substantive reconciliation.
“It seems that the issue is not really the financial ramifications but a lack of will and a lack of connection with, or commitment to the aims of reconciliation,” Kenoras-DuckChief said.
She said the decision is upsetting and unacceptable, adding she hopes the village will reconsider its position.
“The crosswalk would have been something to be proud of and to allow our children to continue to learn and talk about this important issue," she said.