All six municipalities in the District of Muskoka along with the Wahta Mohawk Territory now have rainbow-coloured benches thanks to Muskoka Pride.
Five of the benches were unveiled Friday with the other two, in Huntsville and Lake of Bays, will be installed at a later date.
The unveiled benches are in front of the Georgian Bay Township office, the Wahta Cultural Healing Centre, Windsor Park in Bala, Memorial Park in Bracebridge, and the Gravenhurst town office.
Forth says the benches are made of recycled plastic and have a 25-year lifespan. “They will withstand the Canadian winters,” he jokes.
“We are ecstatic that we are able to make this a reality,” says Shawn Forth, Promotions Coordinator for Muskoka Pride.
He explains the cost of the benches was covered through the District of Muskoka’s Community Enhancement Fund and previous fundraising efforts. When applying for the grant, Forth says all municipalities in Muskoka provided letters of support.
“We’re a diverse, exciting, inclusive community,” Forth says. “Everyone is welcome here.”
He adds that it wasn’t an easy process. Because of supply chain issues, Muskoka Pride was delayed in receiving the benches from the Toronto company they purchased them from. However, Forth says worked out well since they were able to install the benches during Pride Month.
Muskoka Pride celebrates their Pride Month separately in July. Ahead of that, Forth expects all municipalities in Muskoka to raise the pride progress flag at their respective town halls. He explains that’s been happening for the past six years.
“It’s a place where people can come and sit and rest and reflect, but it’s also a statement,” Bracebridge’s Deputy Mayor Rick Maloney says. “It’s a statement of inclusiveness, it’s a statement of respect, it’s a statement that on this journey, we still have a long way to go.”
Maloney pointed out how they, like the other municipalities in Muskoka, raise the pride flag every June for Pride Month. “We want to support them to the best of our abilities,” he says.