The visual landscape across Chilliwack is shifting with a total of 11 rainbow crosswalks now in place, and another five coming.
The completed rainbows were all painted since Sept. 3 when city council turned down the request to paint the first one on a downtown city street.
“From our count thus far we have 11 crosswalks on the ground, with at least another five approved at schools throughout our district,” said Amber Price, who led the effort to urge council to approve such a crosswalk over the summer.
Council voted it down, with only Coun. Jason Lum voting in favour. The word “divisive” came up several times during the discussion to describe the effect the issue had on the community.
Some of the rainbows are painted on private residential property, four are on First Nations land, and one at the Chilliwack School District office.
“We also have three unique takes on the rainbow of inclusion: a rainbow mural at The Book Man, a bench at Central Elementary and the iconic Rainbow Piano courtesy of Bobbypin’s Curiosities,” Price said.
The group has appealed to the Guinness Book of World Records to create a new category: Most Rainbow Crosswalks in a City.
“It occurred to me that we may have surpassed major urban centres with the sheer volume of crosswalks that we have seen installed in Chilliwack,” Price told The Progress. “I would like to see that recognized on an international scale if it is the case.”
She emphasized that youth in particular need support.
“Statistics show that LGBTQ2+ youth are four times more likely to contemplate suicide than their heterosexual peers,” she noted. “The surge in Rainbow Crosswalks at our local schools sends a beautifully clear message to our LGBTQ2+ youth: We see you. We support you. We celebrate you. You are loved.”