British Columbia

Fort Langley, B.C.'s freshly painted rainbow crosswalk marred by skid marks

A freshly painted rainbow crosswalk in Fort Langley, B.C., was marred by skid marks soon after after it was unveiled.

Freshly painted crosswalk celebrating inclusivity was vandalized soon after it was unveiled

A picture of the rainbow crosswalk taken on Saturday morning shows skid marks on one side of the road. (Trish Bongers/This is Fort Langley)

Fort Langley, B.C., got its own rainbow crosswalk Friday morning but within hours of the paint drying, it was defaced.

The freshly painted strip in the Metro Vancouver municipality was first marred by a pair of dark skid marks sometime Friday evening or early Saturday. Another set appeared a day later.

Elaine Brewer-White, an artist who spearheaded the campaign to get the rainbow crosswalk, said it's disappointing after a year-long process to get the crosswalk painted.

"I'm feeling frustrated but defiant," she said.

Brewer-White said the community had rallied for a rainbow crosswalk, an increasingly common municipal feature meant to celebrate LGBT pride, inclusion and diversity.

Elaine Brewer-White, an artist who spearheaded the campaign to get the rainbow crosswalk in Fort Langley, says she half-expected the crosswalk would be defaced. (Elaine Brewer-White/Facebook)

"There's been lots of pushback with why do we have to have that crosswalk," she said, noting some people questioned why the municipality wouldn't install other themed sidewalks.

Ultimately, however, the crosswalk project won the support of the Fort Langley Business Improvement Association which chipped in to pay for part of the costs. Municipal council eventually approved the project.

"It's a universal symbol of love and inclusion," she said. "It's bright and colourful and it's a really good crosswalk because you can see people crossing it much more than two white lines."

Half-expected

As for the vandalism, Brewer-White admits she half expected it.

"It's the Fraser Valley. It is the Bible belt and I know some groups somehow take offence to this. I look at it as the beginning of a conversation that we need to have," she said.

Vandalism against rainbow sidewalks isn't unique to the Fraser Valley.

This summer, a rainbow crosswalk installed in Fort McMurray was defaced within a week. Another one in Whitehorse was defaced within a few days. Yet another in Lethbridge, Alta., had black paint dumped on it, and in Saskatoon, the family of a crosswalk vandal volunteered to pay for the costs to repair that city's rainbow crosswalk.

A similar rainbow crosswalk in Miramichi, N.B., has been defaced six times since it was installed this May.

Black paint was strewn across the rainbow crosswalk in Lethbridge, Alberta earlier this summer. (Lethbridge Pride Fest)

Angie Quaale, a Langley town councillor, says the fact the crosswalk was vandalized proves the point there's a long way to go when it comes to inclusivity.

"[The vandalism] speaks more to the statement the artist was trying to make with the crosswalk that it has been vandalized then it did when it was freshly painted," she said.

Not the first time vandals have struck

On the other hand, Quaale said she was not sure the vandalism was specifically directed at the LGBT community.

"Truthfully, it's not the first time something like this has happened," she said.

Quaale pointed out municipal staff replanted some heritage trees in the spring with a commemorative plaque. Within 24 hours, someone had driven right through the installation.

"There was no statement with the heritage trees," she said.

"I think there's people who feel like it's their right to destroy something that's important to somebody else ... I think it's people who are just antagonistic in life."

Quaale said the city is still looking at the extent of the damages to the crosswalk to decide what to do next.

"I don't want to speculate," she said. "We'll figure out what the problem is and deal with it from there."

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