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City of Guelph undeterred to install rainbow crosswalk after slew of negative online comments

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The City of Guelph says it will still be moving ahead with the plan to install the city’s first rainbow crosswalk despite online backlash which forced the City of Guelph to switch its Twitter account to private for the first time ever.

On Monday, the city posted a tweet saying it was installing a rainbow crosswalk, and said “we want to hear what you need from us as a City to feel included, safe and celebrated in Guelph.”

The next day, the city said it had to turn off comments on the post to ensure that all those who view it can do so in an environment that is respectful to all.

On Wednesday, the city had to temporarily switch its Twitter account to private.

“I can confirm that this is the first time we had to make our account private,” Laura Mousseau, manager of strategic communications with the City of Guelph said in an email. “It was only private for an hour while I moderated comments in line with our social media guidelines.”

A slew of comments took aim at the city for its decision to install the crosswalk – which is seen as a show support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

The tweet garnered nearly 1,000 quoted replies, however, not all were negative. Some were in support of the rainbow crosswalk, while many took aim at the City of Guelph for its decision to turn off comments.

Mousseau said most of the comments that the team was managing came from outside of Guelph.

“Locally we’re still seeing support,” Mousseau said.

“We will still be moving ahead with the crosswalk,” she added.

On April 25, the city announced it would be installing the crosswalk at the intersection of Gordon and Wilson streets during the month of May.

The exact date the crosswalk will be installed is not known.

City staff told CTV News that the negative comments shone a spotlight on why the rainbow crosswalk is needed in the community.

“It has underscored the reason why this rainbow crosswalk is so important,” said Tammy Adkin, the City of Guelph’s manager of museums and culture. “Because we've witnessed over the past couple of days the kind of hate and discrimination that some of our members of our community have had to face. We're looking forward to bringing some light and joy with this rainbow crosswalk installation.”

A photo of the intersection of Gordon Street and Wilson Street on May 11, 2023. (CTV News/Terry Kelly)

LGBTQ2IA+ COMMUNITY GROUP RESPONDS

Barry Moore, the chair of Out On The Shelf, said they believed the online environment around issues like this is heavily impacted by the global discussion going on.

Moore also pointed out that they do consider Guelph a supportive city.

“None of this is to say that there aren't people in Guelph who are anti-LGBT, I'm sure there are, but this is one of the most queer-positive and supportive places I've had the privilege to live in Ontario,” said Barry. “So I hope people are able to recognize that the global debates happening about LGBT people, especially in the US and UK where we are seeing a big uprising of anti-queer attitudes, don't reflect every place and every person.”

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