The City of Delta (pictured) and the Delta School District both raised Pride flags on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 as a show of solidarity for the city’s LGBTQ+ community after a Pride flag was vandalized outside Ladner United Church. (City of Delta photo)
Delta will be getting four rainbow park benches as part of the city’s efforts to “promote diversity and inclusion.”
On Monday night, July 29, council endorsed several recommendations aimed at proactively promoting diversity and inclusion “both corporately and within the community,” according to a report by city staff.
One of those is for the city to install four rainbow benches at “key community facilities,” namely Winskill Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Ladner Leisure Centre, Sungod Recreation Centre and the new North Delta Arts Centre/North Delta Recreation Centre.
Staff recommended installing rainbow benches over painting one or more rainbow crosswalks as it would save the city “significant costs” — approximately $12,000 for the four benches as apposed to about $6,500 per 12 metres for crosswalks. Furthermore, the cost of the benches would be covered by the parks, recreation and culture department’s current maintenance budget.
“Rainbow benches have been proven to be less expensive than alternatives like crosswalks, meaning the city is able to do more with less sooner,” Coun. Dylan Kruger, who chairs the city’s community liveability advisor committee, said at council on July 29.
“The city would be buying them anyway, and having them in community gathering places like recreation centres will allow everyone in our community to make use of them.”
Staff also anticipate lower maintenance costs for the benches versus crosswalks, reasoning that since they will be located at major municipal facilities, it’s less likely the benches will be vandalized.
More than 43 cities in the province have rainbow crosswalks and many have been the targets of vandalism, such as having paint thrown across them or cars intentionally leaving tire marks.
Staff also recommended raising awareness by acknowledging community inclusion events and celebrations, reviewing and updating Delta’s corporate policies and forms, and offering sensitivity and language training to city employees.
The city’s community liveability advisory committee recommended the city provide up to $15,000 in annual funding to support initiatives that promote diversity and inclusion in Delta, and on Monday night council voted to consider the funding as part of the city’s 2020 business plan workshop.
“I’ve said from the beginning of this process that token gestures like rainbow benches would be meaningless unless they were backed up by concrete action to support inclusivity in our community. The recommendations to review and update Delta’s corporate policies on inclusion as well as to provide ongoing funding for diversity and inclusivity in Delta are substantive steps for our city to take,” Kruger said.
“As a man of faith, I believe there’s a moral imperative for us to help correct historical injustices perpetuated against the LGBTQ+ community. Everyone is welcome in Delta, everyone should feel safe here and everyone should feel loved here.”
Council’s decision comes on the heels of several instances of Pride flags being vandalized across the city. On June 3, Ladner United Church had the flag hanging outside its front door defaced with black paint. The church replaced the flag a few days later, only to have it defaced in the same manner again on June 15.
After the first incident at Ladner United Church, the City of Delta and Delta School District raised Pride flags outside city hall, district headquarters and Delta Manor Education Centre in solidarity. It was the first time that the Pride flag had been flown by either.
More recently, on July 21, North Delta’s Crossroads United Church had the Pride and Trans flags hanging in its front of its front walkway vandalized.
In response, the sign outside the church was changed to read, “LGBTQ flags: $240. Solidarity against hate: Priceless. Welcome.”
“At Crossroads United Church, we trust that love is stronger than fear, and that we are stronger when we turn toward one another, in all our diversity, with curiosity, courage and respect,” Rev. Cari Copeman-Haynes said in letter to the North Delta Reporter (see below). “We celebrate that there are others in the community of North Delta who stand with us as we stand with the LGBTQ community.”
Story written by James Smith, North Delta Reporter
Originally published Thursday, August 1, 2019
View original article online (page 3)
Vandalism won’t deter solidarity
During this week leading up to the Pride Parade in Vancouver, we typically pause to consider how far we have come in terms of the ability of members of the LGBTQ community to be open about who they are and who they love. And while it is true that great gains have been made in terms of the legality of same-sex marriage, and more recently a broader public understanding of gender as a continuum rather than a binary attribute, fear still raises its head and sometimes still issues in acts of hostility.
In early July, Crossroads United Church, an Affirming ministry (which means we are explicitly welcoming of all people including LGBTQ folks), hung a Pride and a Trans flag in our front walkway. We knew, of course, that there was a risk they would be vandalized, as they were, early on Sunday morning, July 21. In the words of Crossroads’ music minister, Dr. Bruce Harding, that day when the community gathered for worship, “That is exactly why we fly those flags.” Not that we want to attract vandalism or violence, but the attack on those flags was a visible reminder that ignorance and hostility exist for real. And real people, beloved children of God, face that threat every day.
An openly gay member of the North Delta community wrote a letter to us, in which he said, “Seeing the flags vandalized yesterday was very upsetting to me. I stopped my car, got out and took some photos to share with friends and on Social Media. I struggled, trying to understand what would provoke someone to do this. I want to believe that this is a reaction born out of fear rather than hate.”
We who stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ community and [those] who live in hope for a world in which every child of God finds respect, understanding and love, want to believe that too. At Crossroads United Church, we trust that love is stronger than fear, and that we are stronger when we turn toward one another — in all our diversity — with curiosity, courage and respect. We celebrate that there are others in the community of North Delta who stand with us as we stand with the LGBTQ community.
Rev. Cari Copeman-Haynes
Crossroads United Church
Letter published in conjunction with the article above
North Delta Reporter, Thursday, August 1, 2019