Some days more than others the town of Aurora feels like Simpson’s Springfield.
On Sunday September 25th at the Aurora Public Library Virtual Meet the Candidates event Mayor elect Tom Mrakas felt a lot like Bob Dole.
Amongst his scripted list of accomplishments Mrakas stated “Together we’ve demonstrated Aurora’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through the installation of the first Rainbow crosswalk in York Region and a Diversity and Inclusion Mural.”
Let’s explore those two projects more fully then just items on a list that “got done”.
Tristan Coolman, President of Pflag York Region has been an active proponent of Aurora’s Rainbow Crosswalk as can be seen from this August 28th, 2020 piece in the Aurora.
So we can just check off that box and move on to the next “success”…oh but wait, 2 years later and Tristan has a new letter in the September 29th, 2022 Auroran on pages 4 & 23.
In it is a more fulsome exploration of the crosswalk and the process surrounding it that describes the
discussion, information sharing and leadership to be shocking.
Tristan highlights the withholding of information from council members regarding the donation piece about the project which seems ironic on a project that claims to be one of inclusion.
I’m disturbed that not only a member, but the president of Flag York Region feels he was used for political means so much that he was compelled to write a letter to the residents of Aurora. This demonstrates that the press releases and media coverage from the town and mayor are not sufficient.
The quality and accuracy of installation, with the community not being consulted is described as careless and disrespectful. Perhaps if it wasn’t rushed to “get it done” the application could have been tested offsite before installation.
In addition Tristan claims that there were no apologies or acknowledgements of what should have been done. This is where everything crystallizes for me.
He says: “when a leader doesn’t acknowledge was done with carelessness, address their faults, we have no way to truly measure their growth, even their genuine care for community.”
Mrakas isn’t unlike most politicians, when things seem to go well they lean in for the photograph, but when things go wrong they run away like frightened children. True leaders admit mistakes when they happen, and what has been learned through the process so that they will not be repeated.
So what exactly has been “done” here.
Aurora now has a crosswalk that the President of Pflag York Region says his support for the project wasn’t genuine but out of a feeling of obligation.
So are there other rainbow crosswalks in York Region and if so have they all been “done” the same way?
Well we learn that Georgina, East Gwillimbury and Vaughan seemed to get their shit together and actually engage their community.
East Gwillimbury’s crosswalk was initiated by the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee of council.
So why isn’t it that Aurora’s crosswalk was managed by an advisory committee?
Is this again evidence of a project being rushed through to “get done”?
When we look into Keswick’s crosswalk we see it highlights the work Georgina’s business community. We even learn that a local brewery donated proceeds of the sale of one of their products to Pflag Canada York Region.
So how is that Aurora’s Chamber of Commerce, Engage Aurora, the Downtown Business Improvement Area were not involved in this project? This reads as a huge missed opportunity where connecting the community was skipped over in favour of forcing an anonymous donation without the knowledge of members of council.
Aurora’s rainbow crosswalk seems to be another cart before the horse.
Parallels between the crosswalk and the diversity mural seem to be as plentiful as colours of a rainbow.
Again we have an issue about donations of a public art project.
Again we have an issue of someone involved in the process bringing to the attention of the public how flawed the process was.
Things are getting done. Selfies are being taken, and yes “Bob Dole just likes to hear Bob Dole talk about Bob Dole.”
It is very important that Aurora don’t blindly accept that things have got done. That we ask how they got done, and the costs they had to diversity and inclusion.
As Tristan pointed out so eloquently “positive intent doesn’t excuse the impact.”
Yet here in Aurora we have both a mural and a rainbow crosswalk paved with good intentions.
All while our elected officials are twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.