The rainbow crosswalks in downtown Nanaimo are there to stay, in spite of a vandalism incident this past weekend.
Nanaimo RCMP is investigating after someone defaced two of the crosswalks with black paint at the intersection of Bastion and Commercial streets on the weekend.
Bill Sims, city general manager of engineering and public works, said the vandalism happened early Saturday morning.
Since the damage didn’t contain derogatory or racist language and wasn’t a safety hazard the decision was made to leave repairing the crosswalk until Tuesday morning.
“In the interim, some volunteers, unknown to us, went in and spray-painted over top of the black paint, which makes it look a little bit better,” Sims said. “The whole thing is covered up and it looks OK, but it’s not ideal.”
The crosswalks will be repainted to last the remainder of the year, Sims said, and will then be replaced when the intersection is upgraded to a raised design meant to be more pedestrian-friendly. When completed, the crosswalks will be repainted with a thermoplastic that will be more durable against wear and tear from traffic than paint and won’t fade. The intersection upgrades are slated to happen in the fall.
There were plans to re-locate the rainbow crosswalks to the Commercial Street and Museum Way intersection, but Sims said discussions between the city and the Nanaimo Pride Society resulted in the crosswalks remaining in their current location.
A Pride mural on the Wallace Street side of the former A&B Sound building was also vandalized with black paint on the weekend.
“It’s unfortunate,” Sims said. “I think city council considers the majority of Nanaimoites are inclusive and I think it’s incumbent on all of us to stand up against hate and racism where they make their nests.”
Humanity in Art, the artists who painted the Pride mural, have organized a GoFundMe called ‘Nanaimo needs a new Pride mural,’ to raise $5,000 for a “bigger, brighter” display. To view the fundraiser or to donate, click here.