By Steve Hubrecht 

[email protected] 

Those who would deface municipal property be warned: the District of Invermere has taken action to curb purposeful vandalism of its rainbow crosswalks, as well as other hateful, discriminatory actions by adopting a respectful behaviour bylaw. 

It was previously discussed by council last fall, and the idea for the bylaw stems from several incidences last spring, include one in which a person stood outside the Summit Youth Hub (centre) with a sign reading: “Hey Kids, Trannies = terrorists/satanists,” as well as several acts of vandalism to the rainbow crosswalks in the district.

District staff discussed these incidences with Columbia Valley Pride, the local nonprofit group that strives to enhance the lives of 2SLGBTQiA community members in the valley, and the Summit Youth Hub, as well as the Columbia Valley RCMP. During these discussions the idea of a bylaw discouraging these acts came up.

No bylaw meant the district could not take action on its own to address such behaviour in its municipal facilities and properties, noted Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young in a report to council. Instead, it had to rely on the RCMP.

“It was recognized that it would be beneficial for the district to have a bylaw to help fulfill the district’s obligation to provide a workplace that is free of violence, bullying, and harassment while also considering the district’s obligations under the B.C. Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Young told council.

“It is disheartening to have to legislate kindness. But if we don’t do this — if we don’t have anything in place — then when we have an incident like the one in May, there’s nothing we can do. That’s not good,” said Invermere deputy mayor Kayja Becker.

Invermere councillor Gerry Taft added he hopes that people behave respectfully and that because of that the new bylaw never needs to be used. “But, if it does, at least that tool (the bylaw) is now in the tool box for authorities to use,” said Taft.

The regulation defines vandalism as the “malicious, wilful, or deliberate destruction, damaging or defacing of district facilities or other district-owned property, including equipment, vehicles, materials, and furniture.” This definition includes the rainbow crosswalks.  

The bylaw’s definition of violence includes the use of profane, obscene, abusive, or discriminatory language; threats or attempts to intimidate; throwing articles or objects in a deliberate or aggressive manner that may endanger or cause injury or damage to any persons or property; physically aggressive or threatening behaviour; and attempts to goad or incite violence.