Someone has already left a black mark on Salmon Arm’s week-old rainbow crosswalk.
Images of a tire burnout on the colourful crossing at the intersection of 5th Street SW and 5th Avenue SW were quick to circulate on social media Wednesday, July 25, seven days after the rainbow crosswalk had been painted.
Salmon Arm Mayor Nancy Cooper said she’s upset by what she referred to as an act of vandalism.
“I find this extremely disappointing…,” said Cooper. “I’m just standing down here now looking at it. It kind of looks like somebody is not happy about it if they would do that across it, vandalize it.”
Cooper said the rainbow crosswalk represents both community pride and inclusivity.
“This is a first for Salmon Arm – we’ve come a long way forwards in having this rainbow crosswalk here,” said Cooper. “It means that our community, we just want to be inclusive to everybody. This is a great community and everybody needs to feel included and that’s what this does, it speaks loud, it’s beautiful… it’s a highly used area, very visible and it really brightens this place up.”
Salmon Arm resident and radio personality Patrick Ryley, an advocate for the municipal rainbow crosswalk and the LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer [or questioning] two-spirited) community, responded to the vandalism with a calm invitation for the vandal to accept their own issues and come out.
“God made me in his image and blessed me as part of top 10 per cent of society,” said Ryley. “Someone defacing the pride crosswalk does not diminish my personal power. The LGBTQ2 community is a strong voice that will be heard.
“People only attack physical representations of their own inner fears. If someone is going to deface the Pride sidewalk it is because it is a representation of their own issues and I encourage that person to accept themselves fully and come out.
“The Shuswap and Salmon Arm have grown immensely over the last few years and it’s incredible the acceptance and love this community generates for all people.”
Salmon Arm director of engineering and public works Rob Niewenhuizen said it cost the city approximately $1,600 to paint the rainbow crosswalk. He wasn’t sure what fixing the damage would cost.
Cooper insists the crosswalk be fixed, for this and any future acts of vandalism that might occur.
“I think we just keep cleaning it up. That’s what we do,” said Cooper. “It’s like what they talked about in some of the bigger cities in the States, they talk about the broken-window syndrome. If you’ve got a broken window and it isn’t repaired, it just encourages people to break more windows. We’ll just clean it up if we can and if we have anymore paint left.”