This location will soon be a rainbow crosswalk, chosen by Town of Sidney staff because it was prominent, but had less pedestrian traffic than other crosswalks. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Rainbow crosswalk, safer places for LGBTQ people in Sidney

Correction: The crosswalk will be located near Beacon Park, and will not replace an existing crosswalk as suggested by the original photo. The photo has been updated to reflect this.

A rainbow crosswalk is coming to Sidney near Beacon Park.

The crosswalk will be located on the west end of the Beacon Wharf causeway, by the roundabout.

Christy Smith said she was pleased at the support she got from the community, from the mayor, councillors in favour and staff. The crosswalk was first inspired by a picture by Smith’s two-year old daughter Maggie, which featured a rainbow. It started a conversation between mother and daughter on inclusivity, which led them to submit a picture to Sidney mayor Steve Price, who supported the project. The request was dated August 20, and was approved in less than three weeks.

“Sometimes things are just aligned, and they were just meant to be…It was just the right time and the right people got behind it,” said Smith.

Smith hopes the approval will inspire other communities to determine ways to be better allies to LGBTQ people.

Town of Sidney staff said the crosswalk would be painted in the next few weeks, and would be dependant on weather. There will also be a “first crossing” scheduled featuring Mayor Steve Price, Cst. de Pass, and Christy and Maggie Smith, whose two-year old daughter drew the picture that inspired the crosswalk.

Town of Sidney staff estimate the crosswalk will cost less than $500, and will be absorbed by their existing budget.

The launch of the crosswalk will coincide with another initiative by Sidney/North Saanich RCMP to be more inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ people.

In an interview, Cst. Meighan de Pass said Sidney/North Saanich RCMP will be the first Vancouver Island detachment to roll out the Safe Place Program. It began in Seattle, currently runs in Vancouver, and the closest detachment with the program is Salt Spring Island.

The program is aimed at businesses, organizations and schools, rather than private residences, and is meant to provide a safe place for LGBTQ people if they are the victims of a crime. Groups are vetted by the RCMP and then given stickers to place on windows. Businesses, organizations or schools with the sticker will then pledge to provide a place for LGBTQ people to take shelter and call 911. Training is also available for program participants.

“We look out for each other, and that’s what we’re about as a community,” said de Pass.

Forms have been sent to the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Sidney Business Improvement Area (SBIA) to distribute to their members. The program is set to launch in the next few weeks.

With files from Tim Collins

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