Vandals have destroyed a downtown rainbow crosswalk – installed in celebration of diversity and the upcoming Pride Festival – and now the artistic talent behind the crosswalk says it may have to be removed.
Keith Plamondon, owner of Epic Design Studio Ltd. which put in the vinyl crosswalk at Shoppers Row and 10th Avenue, said just 35 minutes after completing the brightly coloured design on June 11, he witnessed a male driver perform a burnout with his vehicle right over top of the crosswalk.
Then to add insult to injury, Plamondon said it appears other drivers have since followed suit.
“Since that day, there must have been six to seven burnouts done on it,” said Plamondon, who put in five hours worth of painting and four hours of prep and installation work. “So upsetting to be honest. It only had to last two to four weeks.”
The rainbow crosswalk was supposed to be temporary and last until the Pride Festival in Spirit Square this Saturday. The crosswalk was initiated by the community’s LGBT2Q+ group which approached city council for permission to have the crosswalk.
Laura McLaren, facilitator of the LGBT2Q+ group, said a rainbow crosswalk last year at Shoppers Row and 11th Avenue was a “big hit” and the youth wanted to get involved with it again this year. She said the group also figured it would help brighten up the downtown core and get people talking.
“Rainbows are colourful and fun. It could inspire conversations among families about the rainbow and about the LGBT2Q+ community,” McLaren told the Mirror prior to the crosswalk being installed. “It’s also just appealing. It’s colourful, creative, fun, would add a splash of colour to the downtown core.”
So, the crosswalk, thanks to $3,000 from the city’s Public Art Committee, was installed the afternoon of June 11. But since then, the crosswalk has taken such a beating that Plamondon fears it could be a safey issue.
“Now it’s so trashed that I think I may have to remove it as it’s now becoming a hazard,” Plamondon said.
The vinyl is ripped and in some places, has been completely removed from the road surface.
Michele Sirett, the city’s recreation and culture supervisor, said the vinyl product was designed to “stand up to regular traffic and weather conditions and would be easy to remove,” but, she added, “unfortunately, this product doesn’t stand up to this type of vandalism.”
Sirett said “there is evidence of at least five instances of this type of vandalism to this crosswalk in the last week.” She also said that the RCMP has been contacted.
“I can confirm the city has reported the vandalism to the RCMP. We urge anyone who witnessed this vandalism to report the details to the RCMP.”
She added that the city is currently working with the LGBT2Q+ group to discuss options for the damaged crosswalk.
Campbell River is not the only community dealing with vandals who are targeting rainbow crosswalks.
Similar crosswalks in Whitehorse, Saskatoon and Lethbridge, Alta. were also vandalized by tire marks earlier this month.
Closer to home, New Westminster, Victoria and Nanaimo have also all dealt with vandals wreaking havoc on their rainbow crosswalks.