A rainbow-themed photo shoot attracted about 100 people on July 9 in downtown Chilliwack to build support for a rainbow crosswalk. (Sarah Sovereign Photography file)

Rainbow coalition files FOI to see Chilliwack council emails on the crosswalk idea

Group raised $1,100 through GoFundMe but only half of it was needed in the end

The group behind the rainbow crosswalk proposal wants to get a look at all the correspondence sent to the mayor and council on the topic.

Council turned down the proposal from the Rainbow Crosswalk for Chilliwack Coalition on Sept. 3, in a vote of 5-1.

Before the vote, a few councillors cited the “divisive” nature of the rainbow debate in Chilliwack, and the flood of emails they had been sent from both sides, in their rationale for voting to deny the request.

Coun. Jason Lum was the lone city councillor to vote against the motion to deny, adding that some of the emails he read “were bordering on hate and intolerance.”

Since council based its decision to deny at least partly on the emails, the coalition decided to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to see what council received in terms of correspondence on the rainbow crosswalk proposal.

“This FOI request was done in response to hearing that there may be hate speech contained within the documentation sent to City Hall,” according to the preamble in the GoFundMe page. “We have a team of professionals, including lawyers, who will be reading the correspondence.”

City of Chilliwack officials originally estimated the cost of providing hard copy printouts at $1,122 for the more than 3,600 pages of emailed letters to council.

The coalition started a GoFundMe account to pay for it, and within two days the goal had been surpassed.

But since then city reps offered the group a digital option rather than printouts, which was much less expensive at a cost of $560.

“In seeking inclusion and a celebration of diversity, it’s imperative that we access the information that factored into our initiative being unsuccessful at a city level,” according to Amber Price. “I believe that by understanding the fears and concerns of those in opposition, we can start doing the important work of building a better community.”

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