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Westlock For All

Welcome to Municipal Affairs, I'm your host Christopher Brown.

Today we are going delve into an upcoming event shaping the landscape of Westlock, Alberta.

The February 22nd Town Wide Vote on the "Crosswalk and Flagpole Bylaw.”

Before we talk about the future we need to bring you up to speed on how we got here:

Last Spring, In the rural community of Westlock which is located 90kms north of Edmonton, was asked by the Thunder Alliance, a group that supports members of the LGBTQ community at R.F. Staples Secondary School if they could paint a Pride Flag on the crosswalk on 106th Street, between Westlock's town hall and the Royal Canadian Legion, the motion was passed unanimously.

But at a council meeting on June 12, some residents showed up to voice objections.

In June of 2023, the crosswalk was painted in the downtown core.

Fast forward to September 2023, a petition stirred conversations in the community, advocating for the implementation of a 'Crosswalk and Flagpole Bylaw.'

Then on November 27, 2023, Westlock Council introduced the “Crosswalk and Flagpole Bylaw”, marking a crucial juncture in the town's governance.

If the bylaw is passed, in addition to having to remove the Pride sidewalk, the town would not be able to fly any flags other than those of Canada, Alberta or Westlock on municipal properties.

That means a Pride flag would be prohibited during Pride month, flying flags to recognize foreign dignitaries would be forbidden, and the town would not be able to raise treaty or Metis flags as a sign of reconciliation.

At the forefront of this debate is the immediate impact: the potential removal of the rainbow crosswalk. If passed, Westlock could become the first in Alberta to erase such a symbol, possibly sending an exclusionary message to residents, visitors, and businesses alike.

But this decision doesn't rest solely in the hands of policymakers. The upcoming municipal plebiscite on February 22, 2024, presents an opportunity for every citizen, aged 18 and older, to participate actively in shaping their community's identity.

According to the VOTENO Side — Choosing to Vote No speaks volumes for inclusivity and acceptance, vital components of Westlock's growth.

To unpack how we got here and what this upcoming vote means for the community we're joined by Westlock Mayor Jon Kramer, who alongside all members of the Westlock Council support the Vote No Campaign.

Together, we'll explore how Westlock arrived at this juncture and why these leaders are passionate about voting against the bylaw.

Stay tuned for an insightful discussion on the heart of Westlock's identity and the importance of inclusivity in its future.

This is Municipal Affairs.

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