Rainbow dock in B.C. town sparks petition seeking return to ‘previous state’

Controversy has flared up in a small B.C. town over a dock featuring Pride colours.

This week, the District of Clearwater announced it had spent just over $2,200 on staining part of a dock on Dutch Lake, which is located within the town’s boundaries.

On its website and Facebook page, the district said it was revealing how much was spent and why it was done to provide transparency and combat misinformation being spread online.

“The Dutch Lake dock was recently upgraded with new boards stained in rainbow colours to show support for our local Pride group, Valley Pride, and to reflect our commitment to inclusivity as outlined in the District of Clearwater strategic plan,” reads a page on the town’s website.

“Contrary to misinformation, the boards were not simply painted; they were stained with environmentally safe, low VOC deck stains, and installed with new hardware.”

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The district said the project was fully funded through its parks operational budget.

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In response to the stained dock, an online petition was started, asking the district to restore the dock to its previous state.

Kalen Jones, the executive director of the Valley Pride Society, says he was surprised to see the dock become a talking point.

“I knew there would be some backlash, and I’m pretty sure the mayor and council knew that too,” Jones told Global News, adding a rainbow project has been in the works for the past couple of years.

Originally, a crosswalk was to be painted, but it morphed into part of the lake dock.

“It meant a lot because of where it it,” Jones said of Clearwater’s decision to stain the dock. “It’s such a public statement of diversity. And (the district) is showing it.”

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The fact that the controversy is happening at the beginning of Pride Month isn’t lost on Jones, though he noted the dock has already been vandalized.

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“It definitely is (circumstance). I don’t think it was planned,” said Jones. “Crosswalks take a lot of time and you have to wait for contractors and the right weather, prep work, clean roads and all that sort of stuff.

“When (the dock) came up, then it was like, ‘Wow, actually, that’s an easy, quick idea.’ And we were expecting it to be vandalized because it’s so new.

“And, sure enough, on the second or third day, it wasn’t even finished being stained yet and it was already being vandalized (with spray paint).”

Jones added that it’s a good first step “because it’s pretty easy to restain a board or flip it over versus fixing a $5,000 mural or a $6,000 crosswalk.”

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The mayor of Clearwater also publicly backed the decision, saying the town has only had a visible Pride movement for a few years now.

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“Council approved the rainbow dock as a public symbol of inclusion and diversity. We need everyone to feel that they are safe and that they can belong here,” Merlin Blackwell told Global News.

The mayor added, “Because we went so long without that organized presence of an LGBTQ2+  group, I think Clearwater is finally having a conversation with itself that happened in many communities before us.”

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