Four new rainbow benches have been installed at Delta’s rec centres to help promote diversity and inclusion in the city.
On Tuesday (Nov. 19), the City of Delta posted a photo of the install at the North Delta Recreation Centre to its Facebook page, inviting everyone to “join in on our happy dance.”
Benches are also being placed outside Winskill Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Ladner Leisure Centre and Sungod Recreation Centre.
Council approved installing the benches in late July, along with several other recommendations from staff aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion, including acknowledging community inclusion events and celebrations, reviewing and updating Delta’s corporate policies and forms, and offering sensitivity and language training to city employees.
Staff recommended installing rainbow benches over painting one or more rainbow crosswalks as it would save the city “significant costs.” It was estimated the four benches would cost the city approximately $12,000, as opposed to about $6,500 per 12 metres for a crosswalk. Furthermore, the cost of the benches would be covered by the parks, recreation and culture department’s current maintenance budget.
“Rainbow benches have been proven to be less expensive than alternatives like crosswalks, meaning the city is able to do more with less sooner,” Coun. Dylan Kruger, who chairs the city’s community liveability advisor committee, said at council on July 29. “The city would be buying them anyway, and having them in community gathering places like recreation centres will allow everyone in our community to make use of them.”
Staff also anticipate lower maintenance costs for the benches versus crosswalks, reasoning that since they will be located at major municipal facilities, it’s less likely the benches will be vandalized.
More than 43 cities in the province have rainbow crosswalks and many have been the targets of vandalism, such as having paint thrown across them or cars intentionally leaving tire marks.
Council’s decision came on the heels of several instances of Pride flags being vandalized across the city.
On June 3, Ladner United Church had the flag hanging outside its front door defaced with black paint. The church replaced the flag a few days later, only to have it defaced in the same manner again on June 15.
After the first incident at Ladner United Church, the City of Delta and Delta School District raised Pride flags in solidarity outside city hall, district headquarters and Delta Manor Education Centre. It was the first time that the Pride flag had been flown by either the city or the school district.
Then, on July 21, North Delta’s Crossroads United Church had the Pride and Trans flags hanging in its front of its front walkway vandalized.
In response, the sign outside the church was changed to read, “LGBTQ flags: $240. Solidarity against hate: Priceless. Welcome.”