Vancouver unveils Canada's first permanent rainbow crosswalks

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      We’re not in Kansas, Toto—we’re somewhere over the rainbow in Vancouver.

      Just as Vancouver’s Pride Week kicks off, on July 29, Coun. Tim Stevenson unveiled Vancouver’s four rainbow crosswalks at Davie and Bute streets—Canada’s first permanent ones—in the heart of the Davie Village. (The plan to create these crosswalks was originally announced on July 3.)

      Stevenson said it helped to reflect the area's signficance as the “gay village”.

      “This really does mark the strongest support the city has ever shown towards the GLBTQ community,” he said at a press conference at the West End intersection. “Obviously the mayor is very, very supportive and the council is very supportive and we have an inclusive city, and a multicultural city, and everyone is welcome in our city, and all of the traditions are celebrated and that’s the same with our gay community.” 

      Stevenson, who is an out-gay councilor, also provided some historical perspectives.

      “Obviously, we have come a long, long way in a very short time. When I came out 35 years ago, the situation was not as it is today and I, along with many, many other people, have worked for and dreamed for the day that we would have an inclusive city that was recognized by all levels of government…and that’s what’s happened.”

      City of Vancouver Streets Activities Engineer Scott Edwards said that city crews installed it in the middle of the night, due to lower traffic volumes. The crosswalks were made with thermal plastic, which is used for other road markings but was tinted with different colours of the LGBT rainbow flag. The colourful intersection is a few steps away from the Bute Street entrance of Qmunity, B.C.'s queer resource centre. 

      The south side of Bute Street has been cordoned off and filled with picnic tables. Each picnic table will be painted a different colour. Stevenson helped to paint one table green as media looked on.

      The approximate total cost of crosswalk and plaza—which includes landscaping and picnic tables, was a recommendation of the Transportation 2040 plan, and is part of the West End community plan—was $25,000.

      In 2012, a trial run of the rainbow crosswalks was held at Denman and Davie Streets.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson will make an official Pride Week proclamation today at City Hall.

      The Vancouver Pride parade will be held on Sunday (August 4).

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at




      Jul 29, 2013 at 11:26am

      The issue that I have is that they are still putting this kind of stuff in the West End only. As a society that has embraced LGBT I would prefer if the new crosswalks were scattered throughout the entire city. We no longer have to "Ghettoize" groups of people within certain areas of town.

      out at night

      Jul 29, 2013 at 11:36am

      Good for us west enders, but it's so beautiful why not put them all over the place? I'm just a little conflicted about this being something that identifies a "gay village" when gay people live all over the place.


      Jul 29, 2013 at 12:59pm

      Has our society really embraced LGBT's?
      I can go almost anywhere in Greater Vancouver and not see two men or two women holding hands, except maybe the West End. Yet I can go anywhere and see hetero's being physically affectionate, groping, necking. A friend recently hugged me goodbye on Robson St and a straight couple behind us sniggered and said "get a room" like we were doing something shameful.
      No, I don't think society has "embraced LGBT" yet.
      There is nothing wrong with people identifying with a neighbourhood. We humans are social animals with tribal instincts, and tend to congregate with those with whom we identify. You can go anywhere in the world and see cultural "ghettos" of varying kinds. It's normal. That doesn't necessarily mean LGBT's should only live in the gaybourhood, but having a place to go is important.
      I'm glad the city is recognizing the history and identity and value of the LGBT community within the West End. Of course there are also strong populations of LGBT people around Commercial Dr. But I'd challenge you to identify any other neighbourhood as being culturally LGBT.
      Vancouver is a great place to visit but Vancouver is severely lacking as a LGBT destination in comparison with other cities internationally, and losing out on that valuable economic input. The venues and events that appeal to LGBT people are in very short supply here (Pride is good but not nearly enough). Also, the impact of LGBT people moving away to more appealing cities is not just an economic drain, but a creative- and brain-drain - one reason, it can be argued, that Vancouver is often labeled NoFunCity.
      Rainbow crosswalks are one small way for LGBT's to identify with a neighbourhood. They may not appeal to everyone but they will have a positive impact on drawing LGBT's to the neighbourhood again, with all the social, cultural, and economic benefits more LGBT's potentially bring.


      Jul 29, 2013 at 1:43pm

      This is a DRAFT recommendation of the West End plan - a plan that hasn't been reviewed by or adopted by City Council. What input did nearby residents and businesses have into the closure of Bute Street? Should be great once tourists leaving the Sandman Hotel tower discover they can't get back to Davie Street at either the east end of this block (Thurlow's one way) or the west end (Bute Street is now closed).


      Jul 29, 2013 at 2:12pm

      As a straight reader (ha ha) please forgive my ignorance, but what do gay folk feel about the rainbow? I'm thinking that it would be useful, comforting.

      curtis bos

      Jul 29, 2013 at 4:33pm

      This is where I would recommend this area for your Holiday.


      Jul 29, 2013 at 4:51pm

      How about a Gay Bike paths?


      Jul 29, 2013 at 5:03pm

      I thought I told Moonbeam to shut the fuck up yesterday,
      and now look what he's gone and done!
      Christ, he'll be running for the commie NDP cult next!


      Jul 29, 2013 at 5:03pm

      Are you bloody well kidding me? As a gay man i am totally sickened at the cost of this uneeded street painting.
      THey should've given the money to charity or to the homeless in the name of gay pride rather than this embarrassing eye sore. Pathetic.


      Jul 29, 2013 at 5:19pm

      You people make me sick. This is so awesome, but of course it's not good enough! C'mon, we can't have these flags all over the city, Vancouver is MULTI-cultural, it's not just LGBT-cultural. If we start with these flags everywhere,how come we can't have flags painted for Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Atheists too? We all have our cultures but we don't want it shoved in our faces. When we come to the west end we'll be more than happy to see these flags. But I don't want it as the face of Vancouver, sorry.