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Renfrew, Ont. Town Council votes in favour of DEI initiatives, including Pride crosswalk

The Town Hall in Renfrew, Ont. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa) The Town Hall in Renfrew, Ont. (Dylan Dyson/CTV News Ottawa)
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The Town of Renfrew's council voted Tuesday evening to support two resolutions supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the town.

This comes after a committee vote last week that recommended against using a $55,591 grant from Heritage Canada to fund a community art project or mural that would be displayed on town hall, invest in a flag sidewalk display, or create a crosswalk display.

At the council meeting Tuesday, the recommendation to take no action failed and was replaced with a motion to instead direct consultants to include a multicultural community art mural project at the Visitor Information Centre at 190 Mask Rd., as part of their outcomes and to give consideration to other potential inclusion projects at the Visitor Information Centre and Howard K. Haramis Park.

Coun. Andrew Dick, who was one of the two councillors who voted for taking no action at last week's committee meeting, said he was not opposed to DEI initiatives, but was opposed to the options presented, including painting the town hall.

"I think it's important that we're looking at that area of town," he said of the Visitor Information Centre. "I think we can do a lot of good work out there with diversity and inclusivity… More people are coming there. In the summer, they're always busy… I think the possibilities are endless."

As part of that motion, council also approved a plan to investigate the possibility of working with an organization to come into the myFM Center upon its opening to have a counsellor to assist any child or teenager requiring support.

The issue of a Pride flag crosswalk was a bit more contentious, but it passed on a 4-3 vote.

This motion directs staff to include a Pride crosswalk at the intersection of Raglan Street South and Railway Avenue in the 2024 budget. The painting and annual maintenance would be covered with financial support from Renfrew Pride and PFLAG Renfrew, with no added cost to the taxpayer.

"These installations will not only serve as a visual representation of our town's commitment to diversity, but will also spark and lead meaningful conversations within our community," said Reeve Peter Emon.

Renfrew Mayor Tom Sidney said a Pride crosswalk would send a strong message.

"It isn't just about the crosswalk. It's a symbol that the Town of Renfrew sees you, we hear you, we support you, you are safe here," he said.

"If you didn't have diversity, you wouldn't have a community… I think it's our responsibility to respect everybody and to hear them. I think if we have this opportunity to do that, we're moving backwards if we don't."

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