The Village of Ashcroft held back-to-back meetings on Monday, Feb. 24 with all members of council on hand, except Chief Administrative Officer Anne Yanciw.
A few members of the public were also present for the meetings, which began with a Committee of the Whole (COTW) at 6 p.m., followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m. which covered a variety of items for discussion.
The regular meeting began with two delegations, but the second presentation was not included on the evening’s online agenda.
Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Alliance educates council
The first delegation, from Desert Sands Community School’s (DSCS) Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Alliance (SOGI), was presented by two DSCS students, Vivian McLean and Alison Spooner, who are also co-leaders of the alliance.
“We’re just here to talk to you guys about who we are and what we do as a group,” explained the young women, who noted that they are both in Grade 12 and use she/her pronouns. They explained that the alliance chose its name to be all-inclusive: “By calling our group this, we’re not excluding anyone.”
The alliance is working on a number of projects at DSCS. In 2019, SOGI created a plethora of posters with LGBTQ+ information that were placed around the school to create awareness and normalize all gender identities and sexual orientations.
“We’re in the works to create a school-wide mural,” McLean and Spooner said. The mural will be composed of handprints and will read “Everyone is welcome.”
The students have also connected with other SOGI groups in the area. Recently, Ashcroft’s SOGI students travelled to Whistler to join Lillooet’s SOGI group in the local Pride parade. “We went to the Art Gallery and had a lot of fun bonding time. It’s really good to meet with other groups that have similar visions.”
Ashcroft’s SOGI Alliance has also been asked to repaint the Village’s rainbow crosswalk, a project which they are very excited to take on.
“The main goal [of SOGI] is a safe place for all of our kids,” the students explained, adding that DSCS is a Kindergarten to Grade 12 school, which includes children and teens from a variety of areas. One of the presenters lives near Clinton but attends school at DSCS.
“We’re all different, so we want to show that and represent ourselves well.”
Mayor Barbara Roden spoke up to express her excitement about having the Village’s rainbow crosswalk freshened up. She asked how many students are involved in the alliance at DSCS, and the students advised that about a dozen participants regularly attend their meetings. They stressed that there are many more LGTBQ+ students in the school who are aware of their alliance, though.
“For the most part, we have Grades 7 to 12 [participating], all the way through.”
Coun. Nadine Davenport said how inspiring it was to have the girls stop by: “Thank you so much for presenting.”
Roden also noted that the SOGI alliance may have been useful to students who needed it years ago when some individuals had a difficult time with no one to talk to.
“Adults can be very well-meaning, but their lived experience is very different to the experience you’re living,” Roden said. “So having someone who is close to you in age… I think that’s really important and a really great thing to have at our school.”
Council advised that they would likely consider the alliance’s request for support at an upcoming regular meeting.
Cache Creek proposes community union, shared assets
A second delegation was presented by the Village of Cache Creek’s Mayor Santo Talarico and Chief Financial Officer Cristina Martini.
Martini presented first, to propose a community union that could capitalize on shared assets.
“We are two communities that are very, very close to each other,” she began. “I think that we as communities could be united and do something together to benefit both communities, and eventually even Clinton.”
Martini noted that a high-priority asset on Ashcroft’s wish-list is a street sweeper. “Why can’t we buy it together, then come up with an agreement for scheduling and how to use it?” she asked.
Talarico said that Cache Creek would like to go forward with the proposed union. “We want to move ahead and develop something… to come up with a plan of where we can share facilities, services, and ideas, as well as any other areas that we can benefit as two joint communities.”
Roden replied that she looks forward to strengthening the bonds between the two Villages.
“We’re stronger together and I like the idea of speaking with Mayor Swan in Clinton,” she said. “Thank you very much for reaching out.”
Following the evening’s delegations, council also reviewed and responded to a number of items, tabling some subjects for discussion at later meetings.
Funds were made available, as per usual, to send the mayor and a guest to the annual Clinton Ball in May. Additionally, a $500 grant was approved for the Ashcroft Fall Fair, and council also chose to waive the arena rental fees for that event, in hopes of seeing it continue in the future.
Film company leaves community legacy
Lastly, Roden advised council of an exciting donation to the community.
“We the Village have received a cheque for $5,000 from Gravity Productions,” she said, noting that the production company that had recently been filming The Twilight Zone in Ashcroft hoped to leave a legacy behind as a “thank you”.
“They were given a list of a few items from the Village in consultation with staff and crew, and they’ve presented us with $5,000 to buy shade sails for the pool.”
Roden noted that this purchase has been a long-time wish for the community, and specifically for the lifeguards employed at Ashcroft’s pool.
The next regular meeting of Ashcroft council is on Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. Agendas and minutes of all council meetings can be found on the Village of Ashcroft website at https://ashcroftbc.ca.