About 80 km north of Edmonton, the town of 4,900 will allow residents to vote on Bylaw 2023-14, which proposes to ban pride crosswalks and flags on municipal property. The vote is scheduled for Feb. 22, 2024.
The decision to allow a vote comes on the heels of a citizen-led petition submitted to the Town of Westlock on October 30. The petition calls for Bylaw 2023-14, which would restrict the town to flying flags representative of only the municipal, provincial, or federal governments.
The petition also calls for a regulation to paint crosswalks only in a ‘traditional’ white-laddered pattern.
During the council meeting on November 27, the crosswalk and flagpole bylaw unanimously passed its first reading before councillors opted to put the decision to locals instead.
The uproar over the rainbow crosswalk in the rural farming community comes after a unanimous town council decision to allow students and staff at R.F. Staples School’s LGBTQ Thunder Alliance to paint the Town of Westlock’s first rainbow crosswalk on June 18.
The crosswalk, located on 106 Street in front of the town office and the Royal Canadian Legion, divided the town. Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault was brought in from Edmonton to argue in favour of the crosswalk after locals turned up at a June 12 council meeting to object to the LGBTQ sidewalk revamp.
"Yet here we are today, having bedroom activities and sexual proclivities of a minority being flaunted in public with the consent and approval of the state in the form of this town council,” resident David Thomas told the council.
"Bedroom behaviours historically considered deviant, abhorrent and harmful are soon to be graphically represented and visually forced on every resident who wants to do business downtown, even if it is deeply offensive to them, as it is to me.”
At the time, the mayor of Westlock, Ralph Leriger, told Global News people have the right to disagree with the crosswalk and council’s decision, but that isn’t going to stop the movement.
However, a vote by residents just may.