Alberta town bans Pride flags on crosswalks 
A town in Alberta passed a bylaw that bans non-government flags (which includes pride flags and pride crosswalks)

Alexa Posa

February 23, 2024

The town of Westlock has voted in favour of a bylaw that bans municipal buildings from displaying Pride flags — and prohibits painting sidewalks and crosswalks with Pride colours.

Alberta town bans pride flags on sidewalks 

663 residents voted in favour of the proposed bylaw, a small margin over the 639 who voted against it. 

The bylaw bans non-government flags (which includes Pride flags), and allows only the traditional white stripes to be painted across crosswalks. 

It also requires all existing flags and Pride-themed crosswalks be removed. 

Residents expressed opposition to the idea in May of last year after city council members had begun considering putting money towards an LGBT-themed crosswalk.

One resident of Westlock, Benita Pedersen, told The Counter Signal that she wanted to stand up for “healthy boundaries.” 

“Don’t put symbols in my face when your symbol doesn’t completely resonate with me,” she said.

Pedersen began distributing newsletters to churches, expressing disagreement with the rainbow sidewalks and advising residents to send messages to their elected representatives. 

Multiple petitions were soon after launched in opposition to the initiative. One petition received 700 signatures when only 492 were required to halt the city council’s plan.

After the petition representing over 10% of the town’s population was presented to city council, council members still refused to create the bylaw, and put the matter to a direct vote for the entire town.

Westlock mayor attempts to sway residents into voting no 

Leading up to the vote, Westlock Mayor Jon Kramer posted a video urging residents to “vote no” to the bylaw, saying it  “stands in opposition to inclusive initiatives.”

Kramer told residents the move could hurt Westlock’s ability to “attract investment and key professionals.” 

The town council even launched a “Vote No campaign,” in an attempt to persuade residents to accept Pride colours for the sake of the economy. 

“Instead of stepping back and listening to the voice of the people, he very clearly stated it needs to be a ‘No’ vote,” Pedersen told The Counter Signal. 

NDP MLA Janis Irwin shared her reaction to the vote through social media, saying “to Westlock’s 2SLGBTQ+ community: I’m so sorry. You may feel alone, but know that so many of us stand with you.” 

Irwin recently cried in public while lamenting over Premier Smith’s new policies that ban 12-year-old girls who think they’re boys from taking puberty blockers or having their breasts removed. 

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