Cosmetic recognition of the Rainbow Village remains our most practical goal.
The city will replace Bank St’s aging water mains in 2008 and 2009. After reconstruction is complete, businesses usually pitch in – via their BIA – for some modest beautification: be it flags, lamppost upgrades or benches. If such flags highlight “diversity” or use the rainbow icon, we will have a de facto rainbow village.
But getting our community recognized in official city planning will be more of a challenge.
The Ottawa Official Plan, a detailed city-wide development strategy, does not recognize that there is a gay community along Bank St and in the surrounding residential neighbourhoods. It acknowledges queer citizens, via its diversity strategy, but not a community.
These plans are can be changed by council vote, so it’s a matter of finding the political will to acknowledge us as a community. Meanwhile, huge swaths of the document are up for grabs as Mayor Larry O’Brien and city councillors consider big-picture “visioning” over the summer in the hopes of correcting the city’s budget woes.
And since province requires that the plan be updated every five years, 2008 is the ideal year to fight for official community recognition. Public consultations will begin later this year.