Thunder Bay

'This is about our city moving forward': Thunder Bay city council shows support for rainbow crosswalk

Thunder Pride chair says rainbow crosswalks in Thunder Bay is about more than just paint on a road.
Thunder Bay city council showed unanimous support for adding rainbow crosswalks, similar to this one in Riverview, N.B. . (Ian Bonnell/CBC)

Adding rainbow crosswalks to a pair of Thunder Bay intersections is about much more than just paint on a road, says the chair of Thunder Pride.

On Monday night, Thunder Bay city council unanimously voted to support painted crosswalks at the intersection of Bay and Algoma streets, as well as at the intersection of May and Donald streets, as a sign of support for the LGBTQ community.

Two busy intersections in Thunder Bay could have rainbow colours next summer. Jason Veltri is chair of Thunder Pride. 5:59

"This is about our city moving forward with a true, meaningful step of inclusion of all people of our community," Thunder Pride chair Jason Veltri said.

"That shows that our city council is in lockstep with us, that they understand our vision and are committed to moving Thunder Bay forward in a positive and meaningful way."

Council voted to include up to $28,000 for consideration in next year's budget for the project, which would install a special thermoplastic paint expected to last up to five years on two sides of the Bay and Algoma intersection and one leg of the May and Donald crosswalk.

Veltri said Bay and Algoma is an ideal location, considering its role in the city's annual Pride parade and hosting the festival. The May and Donald location was proposed by the city, Veltri added, which he believes is a perfect spot given its proximity to Thunder Bay city hall.

Thunder Pride is committing to raising half of the total project cost, Veltri said.

"We have already seen an outpouring of support of people asking where they can donate, how they can donate," he said. "The business community in the Bay and Algoma district is already stepping up to put funds on the table. This is galvanizing our community in a meaningful way."

With Thunder Bay hosting the national Pride conference in 2021, Veltri said it's an opportunity to showcase the city.

"By having these crosswalks installed in time for the conference, it sends a message to our 125-plus Pride organizations across the country that you're welcomed and accepted to come to Thunder Bay," Veltri said.

"We have, for a long time, been a city that has struggled with moving forward. This is a meaningful, yet symbolic way to show that inclusion matters in our city that and that everybody is welcomed to visit."

Symbolizing inclusion is important not just for visitors, Veltri said, noting that he initially moved away from Thunder Bay about 15 years ago because he did not feel accepted in the city. Ten years ago, rainbow crosswalks in the city would have not seemed possible, he added.

"A lot of us are coming home now," Veltri said. "We want to continue that work to ensure people don't have to leave this city because of who they are and who they love."