Put rainbow crosswalks in the richest areas of Vancouver

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      Six years ago, Georgia Straight reporter Carlito Pablo wrote an intriguing article about the impact that gays and lesbians can have on housing prices.

      At the time, urban theorist Richard Florida and economist Charlotta Mellander had recently written a paper suggesting that the presence of gays, artists, and bohemians increased the appeal of a neighbourhood.

      This, in turn, brought others flocking to the area.

      We've seen this occur in Vancouver's West End, where rising real-estate costs have made it impossible for some young gays to remain.

      This week, the City of Vancouver unveiled four rainbow crosswalks costing $25,000, including landscaping and picnic tables, in the heart of the Davie Village. And this caused a litany of comments on the Georgia Straight website—some positive and some negative.

      It's clear that there's a great deal of public interest in the issue. Some suggested that these crosswalks should be placed elsewhere in the city to demonstrate widespread support for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

      Less than two months after Pablo's article appeared, I happened to interview Little Sister's Book & Art Emporium cofounder Jim Deva.

      One of his concerns was the dispersal of gays and lesbians to the suburbs.

      Deva suggested at the time that this was being caused by a lack of effective rent control in the West End combined with growing acceptance of the LGBTQ commuty in other areas of the Lower Mainland. It's why Deva wanted an LGBTQ community centre in the Davie Village.

      "What drew us together was discrimination," he stated. "Now, it's got to be the social component that keeps us together because we've got to be together in order to be complete."

      The creation of the rainbow crosswalks at the corner of Bute and Davie streets should be seen in this context.

      The gay-oriented businesses need a boost to reinforce that this is the heart of the city's LGBT community—even as low-income gays and lesbians have, in some cases, been forced to flee to other areas, only to be replaced by higher income urban dwellers.

      That's an inevitable byproduct of the presence of gays, bohemians, and artists, who all made this part of the West End so desirable in the first place. A similar phenomenon occurred along West 4th Avenue.

      So the question becomes: where should other rainbow crosswalks go? And do they create a risk of driving up real-estate prices if the non-LGBT, non-artist, and non-bohemian crowd decide that this is the latest hip and happening place to live?

      In light of the work of Florida and Mellander, I would suggest placing new rainbow crosswalks in some of the wealthiest areas of Greater Vancouver.

      My list would include the corner of West 10th and Trimble Street in Point Grey, Belmont Avenue and Blanca Street near Spanish Banks, and at Arbutus Street and West 41st Avenue. For good measure, the District of West Vancouver should install one in the British Properties.

      Keep the rainbow crosswalks away from Mount Pleasant and the Commercial Drive area, where many gays, artists, and bohemians already live.

      To do otherwise just might hasten their displacement.



      Full Circle.

      Jul 30, 2013 at 1:46pm

      Being Gay has become such an non-issue that they're trying to make it back into an issue.

      I vote for no special crosswalks, for any particular segment of the population, anywhere in the city.


      Jul 30, 2013 at 3:46pm

      I think it's a good thing the special crosswalk it should have been done years ago when the west end was alive with gays!


      Jul 30, 2013 at 4:37pm

      this is one of those things where hearts were probably in the right place, but unfortunately it just doesn't pan out the way planners intended


      Jul 30, 2013 at 5:45pm

      Vancouver as a whole is very accepting of gays, and I don't understand why the author and the study tries to make it seem like Vancouver has a problem with gays. It does not.

      These kind of projects though waste a lot of money and are pointless.

      Why force these type of projects everywhere, and what does being gay have to do with rising real estate prices? Many are moving out of downtown and out of Vancouver because of foreign ownership is driving up real estate and rents.

      Instead of trying to fix the housing problem that Vancouver has, city hall is waste time and money on these kinds of needless projects. Acceptance of gays is not a problem, affordability and a lack of opportunities for young people is.

      Big Joe Mufferaw

      Jul 30, 2013 at 6:26pm

      When I moved to vancouver 30 years ago, being a young gay male was not always fun or safe. I agree that this is a non-issue now in every area in the city of Vancouver; however, places in the suburbs still harbour outdated ideas of the LGBT and especially Q community. If we want to make a statement put the sidewalks in places like downtown Langley, Aldergrove, or Maple Ridge...thats where the homophobia still lives

      @ Mark

      Jul 30, 2013 at 6:27pm

      "Why force these type of projects everywhere, and what does being gay have to do with rising real estate prices? Many are moving out of downtown and out of Vancouver because of foreign ownership is driving up real estate and rents."

      And that's why we need someone like MARK to run for Mayor. Brilliant! :)


      Jul 30, 2013 at 7:50pm

      Another example of Gregor Robertsons commune taking shape. Soon you all be assimilated by him. Crosswalks should be for crossing the road, motorists have enough distractions to deal with. ICBC should keep track of accidents at these dream walks.

      A Smith

      Jul 30, 2013 at 11:54pm

      It would be amazing to see colourful art and patterns at all crosswalks everywhere, especially if they were done by artists unique to each neighbourhood. It could help the crosswalks to stand out on our roads increasing safety at the same time as making communities more interesting and aesthetically fun.


      Jul 31, 2013 at 8:39am

      Actually Full Circle, if you look at it from the perspective Tim Stevenson laid out it makes sense. Chinatown has the Gate, so does South Fraser. These crosswalks are a similar thing to welcome people to a part of the city where a distinct community lives and helped create.

      Mondo Bizzarro

      Jul 31, 2013 at 10:26am

      Got NO problem at all with making the streets colorful. I would however, like to see things become inclusive (rather than segregationist...)

      For instance - what about Italian flag colors on the crossing at 1st and Commercial? How about the Chinese flag at Carral and Keefer streets in front of the Sun Yat Sen gardens? Why not have EVERY crosswalk on Granville painted in a flag of all the countries in Canada's cultural mosaic?