Just 10 days after its installation, Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk has been defaced.
“I think it’s very disappointing someone would do this,” said Ginger Gervais, who posted an image of the crosswalk to Twitter on Sunday.
Gervais said she was in the area Sunday afternoon when she noticed white paint all over the colourful crosswalk.
According to Gervais, it “definitely” looked intentional.
“It’s everywhere in that area,” added the City Centre resident. “You could see cars driving by with paint all over the wheels and doors.
On Monday morning, Surrey RCMP said they are investigating the vandalism to the pride crosswalk but that they have no suspects so far.
City crews were out Monday morning trying to clean up the crosswalk.
“We originally tried to do it with a regular pressure washer but it really wasn’t working all that well,” said Ray Kerr, Manager of Engineering Operations. “We have a graffiti removal crew who uses high-pressured steam when removing graffiti so we were trying that this morning and it seems to be working quite well. We’re hopeful by the end of the day we’ll have it cleaned up.”
What’s the cost to restore the crosswalk?
“Really, it’s minimal,” said Kerr. “I would kind of look at is as removing graffiti on the crosswalk. It’s terrible that somebody would take the time to be that malicious. I’m hopeful it will be cleaned up by the end of the day and at the same time, I’m hopeful nobody else decides to be as uncaring.”
A communications representative said Mayor Linda Hepner “condemns this bigoted act, but is not interested in giving the perpetrators any sort of publicity.”
“It delivers a message I think we as a city we should de delivering, and that is of inclusivity,” Mayor Linda Hepner said before its installation. “When you look at 102 languages spoken here in our city, that rainbow sidewalk has gone way beyond just being an original LGBTQ sidewalk and it represents now a message of inclusiveness and I think in a city that’s as diverse as ours, that that is a critical message.”
The crosswalk at Old Yale Road and University Drive cost $8,500, according to the City of Surrey.
City officials say a regular “zebra” crosswalk costs $2,000 and has a three- to five-year lifespan, while the rainbow crosswalk will cost $8,500 and should last for five years.
Some in the community were upset about the crosswalk’s installation, many emailing city council to express their discontent.
The first email came from Tanya Gaw, who identified herself as a Fleetwood resident.
“We voted them into office. They’re spending our money,” Gaw said in an interview with the Now-Leader earlier this month. “There’s opposition here and I think people didn’t have a way to voice that without being called racist or bigots. If we have a view, can we please just rationally pause for a moment and take a look at the evidence, at what this movement is actually pushing on society.”
Hepner said she suspected an ulterior motive behind the opponents.
“I think it’s a message of hate camouflaged by an issue of cost,” said Hepner, “and the issue of cost is nonexistent. Five years, $8,500, come on.”
Rainbow crosswalks in other B.C. communities have been vandalized recently, with tire tracks being burned over them.
Earlier this month, Courtenay’s rainbow crosswalk was left with tire marks just one day after its installation.
Other cities to see similar damage include Fort Langley and Campbell River.
Earlier this month, Hepner said, “I hope that doesn’t happen here.”