As part of an ongoing goal to make Salmon Arm a safe and inclusive place, a tri-rainbow crosswalk and a Progress flag on the arts centre will be considered in the city’s next budget deliberations.
The crosswalk is proposed for the intersection of Hudson Avenue NE and McLeod Street SE, near the entrance to the arts centre.
Following her presentation to city council on the Salmon Arm Pride Project Arts & Awareness Festival, Tracey Kutschker, director-curator at the Salmon Arm Arts Centre, explained that a cultural mapping session showed “our little corner of the downtown is considered among the safer areas of Salmon Arm’s downtown.”
She said between the arts centre and Inclusive Arts, as well as a few other places that are aware and open with regard to LGBTQ2S+ people, a tri-rainbow crosswalk in that area would be a visible message to people, whether they’re residents or visitors, that it is a safe space and Salmon Arm is working to become safer.
One crosswalk would be the traditional six-colour rainbow, another would be the inclusive rainbow that has brown and black stripes to specify people of colour and Indigenous people, and the third would be the transgender flag with pink, blue and white.
“They (transgender people) are right now where LGBTQ communities were about 20 to 25 years ago. The level of fear, the unwillingness to be open and to be themselves is really high. So I think there has to be a really specific message to transgender people that we are a safe space,” Kutschker said.
She said the crosswalk would also send a message to the businesses in the downtown, “because as we learned with the window display contest, there are a lot of businesses who are open and willing to learn… how to be a safe space; they just weren’t sure how the rest of the downtown was feeling about it. The communication level can be achieved. This is one way of saying, ‘yeah, we’re ready.’”
Kutschker told council that although the committee formed for the Pride Project came up with 25 recommendations, they were focusing on two. Along with the tri-rainbow crosswalk, she requested that council consider adding a Progress flag to the flag pole atop the arts centre. Currently the banner pole holds the centre’s annual exhibition schedule, so the committee would like to see the Progress flag flown at the top.
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond suggested the requests be added to city budget deliberations, which would give time for costing out the proposals.
She added: “This is right from the community itself and was discussed and debated over many, many hours. So it’s solid, data-based evidence right here.”