Recent closed-door decisions by Nelson city council have taken away the right of 19 user groups to display their public awareness banners over Baker Street, and also takes away the Pride Flag (one of the only other flags to fly at city hall) that flew this past week.
These decisions apply a blanket ban over use of public space irrespective of the equity problems faced by groups like Kootenay Pride that use this space to attract allies to the parade and events. Even though Kootenay Pride is a minority facing an uphill climb, it hosts one of Nelson’s biggest charitable fundraisers each year.
They gather money that gets redistributed to the community through charities that help everyone. That means money raised by Pride in the past decades went out to the Red Cross, Nelson Women’s Centre, the Food Cupboard, ANKORS, Transconnect, and several other community agencies or projects that promote inclusion.
The banner puts feet on the street for parade day which also means money in the stores on Sunday afternoon (a much-appreciated boost for Baker businesses). In addition to that, several other big important charities and community fundraisers are going to be poorer next year if the banner ban goes ahead.
The Road Kings and Coldest Night come to mind immediately. How much less aware will the public be of these initiatives? How much loss for our business community? How much are our activities worth to our community? How much will this decision to dis-include Pride and all the charities cost our community spirit?
I know I feel less included in Nelson after this decision. Regardless of wishing to sidestep controversy, this council has just stepped on the weakest members of the community.