LOGY BAY, N.L. – A small Newfoundland town council is voluntarily painting its first-ever rainbow crosswalks in support of its LGTBQ residents, taking a substantially different tact than a community five hours to the north.
The Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove town council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to create two brightly coloured crosswalks in the community of about 2,000 people on the northeastern tip of the Avalon peninsula.
Deputy Mayor James Cadigan said Wednesday that a councillor took it upon himself to bring the motion forward and all seven members supported it, adding that the crosswalks will likely be in place in a few weeks.
“We felt that it was the right thing to do to make it a proactive move to show our support for an inclusive community and to embrace diversity and especially show leadership for our youth,” he said in an interview.
“Every community is becoming more diverse and we’re there to be leaders for our community to show our support.”
The initiative was not proposed by a resident or group, but was spearheaded by a councillor.
Cadigan said the early response from the community has been positive, with an email from the principal of the local elementary praising the council for taking the step and “just the overall happiness that we have such an inclusive community.”
The approach is in stark contrast to a simmering debate in Springdale, a Newfoundland community of about 3,000 people that attracted national attention earlier this month after its council voted against painting a rainbow crosswalk.
A student group from the local high school proposed the initiative as a way to promote inclusion and diversity — something that has been done in cities across the country.
The Springdale council voted four to three against painting the crosswalk. Mayor Dave Edison, who cast the deciding vote, told a reporter from the local Nor’Wester newspaper he was concerned the crosswalk would create division.
Three teenagers from Indian River High School’s Gender-Sexuality Alliance spoke at Monday night’s council meeting in the hope that they could convince local politicians to reverse their decision.
Lorinda Goudie, administrative assistant for the Town of Springdale, said Tuesday there is no follow-up meeting planned and it’s not clear if there will be another vote.
The rejection prompted widespread criticism from prominent Newfoundlanders and spurred a Go Fund Me page dubbed “Paint the Town Gay!” which had raised more than double its $500 goal by Tuesday afternoon.
When asked whether the Springdale case had influenced his council’s decision, Cadigan would only say, “We look at the opportunity to show support and to recognize that we can be leaders here and support inclusion.”
He said one of the crosswalks will be in front of the town hall and the other in front of a recreation area a few minutes away.
Cadigan, 30, grew up in the town and said they raise the rainbow flag and have a get-together at a local beach every year during Pride week.
“Our town is a very progressive town and we’re based on community solidarity right from when I was a child growing up,” he said.