Council just voted to create a city task force to look at inclusiveness, diversity and accessibility.

Task force on inclusion, diversity and accessibility coming for Chilliwack

Idea for rainbow crosswalk nixed but council listened to feedback and will appoint task force

Chilliwack council may have nixed the rainbow crosswalk idea, but it also listened carefully to all the feedback that came in.

The idea to appoint a city task force to improve accessibility, inclusiveness and diversity in Chilliwack was approved unanimously, and to research what other cities have done in this regard.

Coun. Bud Mercer raised the topic in council chambers as a late item on the afternoon agenda.

As as a city, those efforts are “the right thing to do,” Mercer commented, even if it’s not technically the city’s responsibility or job to do so, and that’s the challenge Chilliwack is now facing.

He said he was “struck” by Coun. Jason Lum’s comments in chambers that in the wake of all the emails coming in from “all directions,” Chilliwack apparently “still had a lot of work to do.”

READ MORE: Council turns down rainbow crosswalk

“I’ve been struggling since our last council meeting and discussions we had with respect to inclusion and diversity,” Coun. Mercer said in his preamble.

Then he put a motion on the floor to direct city staff to investigate and report back to council what other communities are doing to increase diversity and inclusiveness, compared to Chilliwack, looking at the “good and the bad” with a view to what could be done.

“Then they can come back with options and we can have a fulsome discussion about where we potentially are as a city,” Mercer said. “I’m not suggesting for a minute that we are not all of the above but I do think, as stated by Coun. Lum, that given all the differences of opinion, we’ve still got work to do. We should be proud to do that work, to find a balance, that sweet spot from diverging opinions,” Mercer said.

Mayor Ken Popove said he wanted to chime in with his support for inclusivity, diversity and accessibility, but said he’d rather get there “through programming, instead of through paint,” and proposed an amendment that council appoint “a task force” to take on those issues, which was later passed.

Not only could the task force cover LGBTQ2S issues, but those facing youth, seniors, immigrants, First Nations, and people with disabilities as well, Popove said.

Coun. Jason Lum said “a lot had transpired” since the rest of council voted down the crosswalk, and thanked Counc. Mercer for his thoughtful words.

Coun. Lum was the lone councillor to vote against the motion of Sept. 3 to deny the crosswalk, which was approved 5-1.

“We’ve had an opportunity as a city to take a bit of a breath and think about some of the feedback we’ve been receiving,” Lum said, adding he’d welcome being part of any initiative geared to “bringing people together” the way the task force will.

“Most of the division and fear that’s out there we can resolve through good dialogue,” Lum said.

Coun. Sue Knott agreed that communication was key to finding common ground.

“I too would certainly be in support of that committee,” she said about the task force.

“There are lots of different avenues in our city to promote inclusiveness and diversity,” Coun. Knott said, adding here’s a “very strong” feeling of inclusion in the community already.

Both the motion to direct staff to research other cities’ actions, and the amendment to appoint a task force, were passed unanimously by council.

The spokesperson for the rainbow crosswalk proposal, Amber Price, was in chambers with a few supporters as council voted for the task force and staff research on best practices.

“Creating change is not always comfortable or easy,” Price said after the meeting. “I believe that the creation of this committee shows that our leadership is listening.

“Giving voice to community members who have been historically marginalized is a potentially powerful step in creating a more inclusive city.”

Having city staff research past experiences and successes of other cities “will expedite the effectiveness of our own committee,” Price said.

“So much learning has already been done for us, and I’m grateful in advance to other communities for sharing their knowledge with us.”

READ MORE: Support had been building for rainbow crosswalk


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Coun. Bud Mercer at the Sept. 17 council meeting where he said working toward inclusiveness and diversity for Chilliwack was ‘the right thing to do’ as a city. (City of Chilliwack video)

Just Posted

Get on the Vote Bus 2019 if you need a ride to the polls

Goal of the Vote Bus project is to see the highest voter turnout ever in Chilliwack-Hope

Vehicle of missing Maple Ridge man is found in Abbotsford

Barrie Holt, 63, is also known to frequent Chilliwack area

Contentious issues debated at candidates meeting in Hope

Locals pack conference hall to learn more about local candidates

Editorial: Vote wisely, but vote

There are no backsies when it comes to voting

Chilliwack RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

Spotlight on B.C.: Liberals need at least 10 B.C. ridings to take the election

Black Press Media presents a four-part series into how B.C. will affect the federal election outcome

Kawhi Leonard, former Toronto Raptor, welcomed back to Vancouver at pre-season game

Fans go wild at pre-season game between L.A. Clippers and Dallas Mavericks at Rogers Arena

Greens and NDP go head to head on West Coast; Scheer takes fight to Bernier

Trudeau turns focus to key ridings outside Toronto after two days in Quebec

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Scholars say religious vaccine objections can’t be traced to Biblical sources

Vaccinations are a requirement to attend class in Ontario and New Brunswick, while B.C. launched a demand this fall

ELECTION 2019: How would the major parties address Canada’s housing crisis?

Promises include speculation taxes, more affordable housing, and declaring housing a human right

Workers at four Vancouver hotels ratify contract with higher wages, job security

Unite Here Local 40 president Zailda Chan says it’s the first hotel strike in Vancouver in nearly two decades

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

Most Read