Lawyers offer up parking lot as alternative after council rejects pride-inspired crosswalk

By on March 2, 2018
Kyla Lee and her business partner Paul Doroshenko own two pieces of a parking lot at the corner of Garcia Street and Coutlee Avenue (in red). (Photo courtesy of Google Maps).


After Merritt’s city council voted against permitting School District 58 students to pursue painting a pride-inspired crosswalk near Merritt Secondary School, a pair of Vancouver-based lawyers who own property in the city have offered their space to students instead.

Kyla Lee and her business partner Paul Doroshenko own two pieces of a parking lot at the corner of Garcia Street and Coutlee Avenue. After seeing coverage of council’s decision online, Lee took to Twitter to offer the students a workaround.

“I own a parking lot in Downtown Merritt. If the high school students want to paint the whole lot rainbow, I’ll let them and I’ll even donate to the cost of the paint. Who do I talk to for this to happen?” wrote Lee on Twitter on March 1.

The tweet quickly gained traction online, which led to Lower Nicola Band Chief Aaron Sumexheltza reaching out to Lee to put her in touch with representatives from the school board.

“If city council is so out of touch with what the community actually wants, maybe they should revisit their decision,” said Lee. “The idea that if you paint a rainbow crosswalk, there would be a hockey team or a rotary club that would also want a crosswalk makes no sense to me.”

In rejecting the school board’s proposal, Merritt Mayor Neil Menard said he was worried that approving the application would open a “Pandora’s box,” setting a precedent for community groups to apply for their own crosswalk redesign.

“If the students want to paint a huge rainbow parking lot, or do alternating stalls rainbow, or a rainbow crossing in the parking lot — whatever they want to do, I’m open to,” said Lee. “If it gets city council to change their mind and go with their original idea, great.”

Lee originally purchased both of the lots — one of which she later sold to Doroshenko — because of the rising price of property in Vancouver. The lots don’t generate any income right now, but the lawyers have exchanged ideas for possible developments in the area.

“There should be a message of inclusivity and acceptance in Merritt, and if the city’s not going to step up to paint that message on the sidewalk, then fine, I’ll do it,” said Lee.

Lee has reached out to School District 58, as well as the teacher sponsors of the student groups responsible for the initial proposal and is awaiting their response.


  1. philip leach

    March 2, 2018 at 10:42 am

    This council has made the town of Merritt a butt of jokes on social media. We are now a laughing stock all over the province. Mayor Bumpkin and the rest have to go!!

  2. Brad Dirks

    March 2, 2018 at 11:58 am

    After hearing about the homophobic, transphobic comments of the Mayor and counsel in Merritt, it really bothered me that these “rusty” old “adults” wouldn’t embrace inclusivity in their community, especially when it was coming directly from students. Then, I heard that some rational residents in the community were offering their parking lots to these amazing students, do pursue their inclusive, supportive project of painting their rainbow. I am a 45 year old, straight, white male, but I applaud these young people! They are soon to be voters, and I have faith that they will “vote out” these out-dated thinking people, and usher in a more progressive, accepting, community where diversity is embraced and celebrated.

  3. B. Anderson

    March 2, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    I agree Brad Dirks. We have a rainbow crosswalk in downtown Castlegar. I’m very proud of it! We are all human beings. I don’t care who you love – only that you do love.

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