Rainbow Dock in British Columbia city triggers petition to return to 'previous state'


In a small town in British Columbia, controversy has arisen over a footbridge in the colours of the Pride movement.

This week, the Borough of Clearwater announced that it spent just over $2,200 painting part of a dock on Dutch Lake, which is within city limits.

The district said it would disclose on its website and Facebook page how much money was spent and why to provide transparency and counter the spread of misinformation online.

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

“Contrary to misinformation, the boards were not simply painted, but stained with environmentally friendly low-VOC deck stain and installed with new hardware.”

The district said the project would be funded entirely through the parks' operating budget.

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In response to the polluted dock, an online petition was started calling on the county to return the dock to its previous condition.

Kalen Jones, executive director of the Valley Pride Society, says he was surprised the dock became a topic of conversation.

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

Originally, a zebra crossing was to be painted, but this turned into part of the lake pier.

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

Jones is aware that this controversy comes at the start of Pride Month, although he noted that there has already been some vandalism at the dock.

“It's definitely the case. I don't think it was planned,” Jones said. “Crosswalks take a lot of time and you have to wait for contractors and the right weather, do prep work, clean the streets and all those things.”

“When (the dock) was finished, we thought, 'Wow, this is actually a simple, quick idea.' And we expected it to be subject to vandalism because it's so new.

“And in fact, on the second or third day, the staining hadn't even finished before it was smeared (with spray paint).”

Jones added that this is a good first step “because it's pretty easy to restain or flip a board compared to repairing a $5,000 mural or a $6,000 crosswalk.”

The mayor of Clearwater also publicly supported the decision and said that there has only been a visible Pride movement in the city for a few years.

“Council approved the Rainbow Dock as a public symbol of inclusion and diversity. We want everyone to feel safe and that they belong here,” Merlin Blackwell told Global News.

The mayor added, “Having gone so long without the organized presence of an LGBTQ2+ group, I think Clearwater is finally having a dialogue with itself like many communities have before us.”