Kamloops Pride has pledged $1,500 toward the cost of installing a rainbow crosswalk downtown, covering a quarter of the estimated expense if the project is approved next week by city council. Kamloops Pride president Sam Numsen said the non-profit association believes in the value of a rainbow crosswalk in the city’s core as a symbol of diversity for the LGBTQ+ community.
“We really wanted to walk the walk as far as being advocates of members of our community,” Numsen said. “We’re happy to be able to make that contribution, however small.”
City staff have recommended installing a rainbow crosswalk at Second Avenue and Seymour Street, between St. Andrews on the Square and the Kamloops Museum and Archives.
The staff report will go to city council on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
One alternative location is Fifth Avenue and Victoria Street — the corner that is home to the Delta Kamloops Hotel, Pizza King, Paramount Theatre and the Kamloops Public Library and Kamloops Art Gallery. However, that option could not be installed until 2020 to coincide with an impending streets project planned for that time.
Kamloops Pride’s financial contribution comes after cost of the crosswalk has come under fire by some in the community. Due to high-quality durable paint to be utilized, the city initially estimated the crosswalk to cost $10,000. Having received an updated quote, however, city staff’s revised figure is $6,000. Numsen said he is pleased the city was able to lower the price tag. Asked if he was surprised by some of the negative comments about the cost, he said he tries to ignore them.
“When you do this sort of equity-seeking work, it can be really difficult to stay positive and focused on the big picture,” Numsen said. “These are people’s identities and lives that are up for discussion, it seems at times, and I think what’s important to remember is this crosswalk symbolizes, really, a community that is often disproportionately under-resourced, persecuted and discriminated against in big and small ways.”
Numsen stressed the importance of a permanent symbol to acknowledge community support.
“We’re not re-inventing the wheel here,” he said. “Crosswalks have been installed in cities all over the province, all over the country, and we’re excited at the potential of having one in Kamloops.”
Numsen said Kamloops Pride supports both locations pitched by city staff. The organization has long been been working on this initiative, he added, with members excited to see the crosswalk come to fruition.
“We think it will serve as a really great welcome to folks visiting the farmers’ market or accessing downtown from St. Paul Street,” Numsen said of the Second Avenue and Seymour Street location. “We think it’s going to look lovely and it’s right on the major thoroughfare of Seymour there, so it should serve as a really nice bright entrance to folks coming into the downtown.”
Kamloops Pride said the importance of rainbow crosswalks is best summed up in the following quote:
“Crosswalks are intersections between drivers and pedestrians. If you’ve ever stood on the side of the road and felt the wind whip past you when a truck raced by, you know the difference between power and vulnerability. It’s easy for drivers, insulated in their vehicles, to breeze past pedestrians — but there are fleshy, vulnerable people to watch out for. Similarly, it’s easy for people who don’t struggle with discrimination due to sexuality, gender or race to ignore the reality of people who do. A crosswalk is a reminder to those of us with power to look out for the vulnerable people, to respect their right of way, and to let them pass unharmed.” —Veronica Dymond (CBC Newfoundland and Labrador)