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Town in Alberta to Vote on Bylaw Prohibiting Symbols like Pride Crosswalks

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Residents of a small Alberta town will cast their ballots next year on a proposed bylaw that would prohibit social, political, and ideological symbols such as Pride rainbows on crosswalks and public flagpoles.

The move comes five months after a Pride crosswalk was painted in Westlock, Alta., a town of 4,802 north of Edmonton.

Westlock Town Council in September received a petition asking for a bylaw that would limit the town to flying only municipal, provincial, and federal flags and keeping all crosswalks to a traditional white pattern.

The proposed bylaw was discussed at a Nov. 27 council meeting, and town council voted to put its adoption to a plebiscite after passing the first reading. The plebiscite has been scheduled for Feb. 22, 2024.

“This is the next step in the process that we are legislated to follow,” Acting Mayor Murtaza Jamaly said in a Nov,. 27 news release. “At this point, we feel like our community needs to weigh in on the Crosswalk and Flagpole Bylaw at a plebiscite.”
The town said it received the petition on Sept. 15. It was verified on Oct. 30, according to the Westlock Neutrality Bylaw Petition website.

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The petition calls for a bylaw to be created that would see crosswalks painted only in the standard white striped pattern, only allow the national flag of Canada, the provincial flag of Alberta, or the Town of Westlock flag to be raised on public properties, and facilities, prohibit decorations on town crosswalks or flags that support social, political or religious movements, and no grandfathering of any existing crosswalks or flags that are in opposition with the bylaw.

The proposed bylaw would also require the town to remove the rainbow crosswalk that was painted on June 12.

According to the website, the petition started after Westlock Town Council “dismissed citizens’ concerns and disregarded the Duty of State Neutrality Ruling by promoting a special interest group in a public place.”

The group describes itself as “concerned local citizens from all walks of life who care about keeping public places equal and neutral.”

On the website, the group says it wants to see a return to neutral public spaces.

“The government painting symbols or flying flags of special interest groups elevates one community group at the cost of the equality and rights of others,” the website reads. “This is no longer about equal treatment, but about forcing everyone to accept and embrace that ideology and is a violation of Canadian’s rights according to the Charter – the freedoms of ‘religion, belief, thought, conscience, opinion, and expression.’ It is essential to recognize the principle of neutrality in the public sphere.”

In a similar case, the township of Norwich, Ont., passed a motion earlier this year that prohibited special interest flags from being flown in public spaces, only allowing flags for the municipality, province, or country to be permitted.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Westlock Neutrality Team and the township but did not hear back by publication time.

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