Thunder Bay

Thunder Pride hits fundraising goal for rainbow crosswalk

Thunder Pride has raised $10,000 to contribute to the cost of adding rainbow paint to a crosswalk in Thunder Bay's Bay and Algoma neighbourhood.
Thunder Pride Association chair Jason Veltri says the organization has raised $10,000 to support the installation of a rainbow crosswalk. (Matt Vis/CBC)

The dream of bringing a rainbow crosswalk to Thunder Bay, Ont., is much closer to reality.

The Thunder Pride Association on Thursday announced it had raised $10,000 in just 60 days for the project, which would install coloured thermoplastic paint on a crosswalk at the intersection of Algoma and Bay streets to show support for the LGBTQ community.

Thunder Pride chair Jason Veltri said the crosswalk represents more than just paint on a road.

"This is about creating a meaningful and lasting project that shows people that are still potentially struggling with their identity – sexual or gender – that they are seen and heard and that when they're ready, they're accepted in our community," Veltri said.

The fundraising campaign had 105 separate donors and included support from local businesses. As well, project contractor Northwest Lines has committed to covering another third of the estimated $28,000 project cost.

"The support from the business community, including Northwest Lines coming on board with a cost share proposal, was one of the most special things about this project now," Veltri said. 

"It really does show we're doing the right thing in creating these types of projects within our community and that these types of projects can be supported by business, municipal government and community service organizations."

Coun. Shelby Ch'ng, who last November brought forward a motion that was unanimously supported by city council to include the project for consideration in the 2020 municipal budget, said she thinks a crosswalk will help show people growing up in Thunder Bay that it's OK to be different.

"I think we're finally able to demonstrate that we're an inclusive and welcoming space, and we want to move towards that," Ch'ng said. "It's really easy to say we're trying to move towards it, but this is a physical representation of what we're trying to do in the city."

Veltri acknowledged there has been some negative commentary on social media about the project, including threats of vandalism but said there was strong community support in favour of the crosswalks.

"It does show that we need a project like this," Veltri said.

"We need the crosswalk for a multitude of reasons, one of them being people don't see themselves in our community yet. They want to feel included and inclusive of our community, and this is one meaningful step in the direction of creating that inclusion within our community."

The city's share of funding is still subject to budget approval. There are also plans to add a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of May and Donald streets outside city hall.