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).