LGBTQ2 advocate raises concerns after Drumheller council asked to reconsider crosswalk policy

Click to play video: 'Westlock residents votes in favour of controversial bylaw'
Westlock residents votes in favour of controversial bylaw
By a very slim margin, Westlock has voted in favour of a controversial bylaw. Pride crosswalks and flags will no longer be allowed on municipal land. Jasmine King has more on the changes that have divided residents – Feb 23, 2024

An LGBTQ2 community member in Drumheller is raising concerns after a request to reconsider the town’s flag pole, banner and decorative crosswalk policy makes the agenda at the upcoming council meeting.

According to an agenda posted on the Town of Drumheller website, the council will be asked on Monday to approve changes to the policy to make sure it aligns with the town’s intentions.

The recommendations include requiring all crosswalks to align with standards in the Alberta Transportation, Highway Pavement Marking Guide, as well as updated criteria for the design and approval of pole banners in the town.

Town of Drumheller administration says the updates allow the town to support events and organizations with historical connections to the area and respect the memory of deceased emergency personnel, members of government and local public figures.

However, one of the founding members of an LGBTQ2 advocacy group in Drumheller is concerned the updated policy will ban crosswalks and banners for Pride and other groups.

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Brett Litwin, an advocate and local drag queen, said Drumheller’s Pride crosswalk has been there for seven years.

“There have been numerous queer families and queer individuals who told me that they moved here because they saw the Pride crosswalk, or they moved here because they were here at some point in June during Pride month and they saw the town was flying the Pride flag,” Litwin told Global News on Saturday.

“It’s that little bit of visibility that can make someone feel safe enough to move to a new community.”

The concerns come after residents of Westlock, Alta. voted in favour of prohibiting non-governmental flags from being flown on municipal flagpoles and the painting of town crosswalks in any other way than a traditional white-striped pattern.

Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg told Global News town administration is asking council to review the policy and not necessarily change anything.

But Litwin said they are concerned the policy will make it even more difficult to fly Pride flags, hang Pride banners and paint Pride crosswalks in the town, especially in June. Litwin is concerned the wording in the updated policy will only allow official government and town flags to be flown and will take away the existing Pride crosswalk.

“When we take away little things like that, it opens up the door to take away so much more, and we are seeing that in the States and we are seeing this uprising of hate over the last few years. That is now slowly starting to strip away our rights,” Litwin said.

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The LGBTQ2 advocate said many youth in Drumheller look forward to Pride Week at school because the event makes them feel safe.

“Talking to the youth that don’t feel safe at home … That was the only thing they had to look forward to. Was that little bit of something they got at school,” Litwin said.

–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News.

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