Ladysmith is taking further steps to demonstrate the town’s inclusivity and diversity by installing a rainbow crosswalk downtown in the coming weeks.
The original plan pitched by staff was to paint the crosswalk across Capt. Tristan de Koninck Way at Transfer Beach but councillors decided in a unanimous vote to approve it for First Avenue and Gatacre Street, between Pharmasave and RBC Royal Bank.
Coun. Steve Arnett has spent 35 years as a social worker and called this a “watershed” in terms of support for young people.
“I’m just really proud of Ladysmith for bringing this forward,” he said. “I understand for some people it will be a struggle but it’s a really important thing to do.”
The City of Nanaimo installed a pair of crosswalks recognizing the LGBTQ2+ community last summer and in May politicians agreed to complete the intersection by adding two more ahead of this Saturday’s Pride festival and parade.
“That community (Nanaimo) and now our community is making a statement for life that we are welcoming and open,” added Arnett, who walks past the intersection daily on his way to work at the Nanaimo Youth Services Association.
Pride Nanaimo appeared as a delegate before Ladysmith city council in the fall and asked that the town consider installing a crosswalk.
Mayor Aaron Stone said this shows not only support for the gay and transgender community but also demonstrates the town’s leadership in being progressive.
“When it comes to representing how diverse we are as a community and how we embrace diversity within our community, I think we should lead the way,” he said.
“I could not be more passionate about any subject then this, as I am with things like reconciliation, because not only do I think that it shows leadership as a community in terms of the rights and the recognition that we have towards people struggling…..but I think that as we embrace that leadership it has other benefits as well.”
Ladysmith will contract the work out and staff estimate the crosswalk will cost about $1,200.
Staff noted that council should anticipate spending the same amount annually to maintain the vibrancy of the installation.
Ladysmith installed rainbow banners two years ago that are currently hanging at the corner of First Avenue and Roberts Street.
Coun. Duck Paterson said he was supportive showing the town’s commitment to inclusivity but pitched the idea of the town considering rainbow benches.
“A crosswalk, cars drive over it, people butt their cigarettes on them,” he said. “I’d like to see us do something that involves people that is more lasting and meaningful where people can sit and talk and engage each other other.”
Several councillors expressed their desire to do more in the future even it meant personal contributions or fundraising initiatives for more crosswalks or even benches.
“I believe that this is long overdue in our community,” said Coun. Rob Hutchins. “I think it’s a start, I like your idea(about benches) and I think we can do more.”