A big misunderstanding in central Alberta is that the rainbow crosswalk comes at an expense to taxpayers.
Shannon Humphrey, Central Alberta Pride Society chair, says the money comes from donations and sponsorships.
“It’s the biggest misconception that it’s taxpayers money. None of it is taxpayer money. It is entirely with the help of donations, partners, sponsors and the community,” said Humphrey.
“The support from our community is amazing, and that’s what we use for the crosswalk.”
Humphrey explained the society applies for permits for the temporary crosswalks, and city workers take care of painting and maintenance.
Two temporary rainbow crosswalks were painted at Ross Street and Little Gaetz Avenue on Thursday, just in time for Central Alberta Pride Week.
Society board member Sharon Slate said she has been keeping a close eye on the temporary downtown artwork.
“I drove by Friday, and there were some burn marks already. Not as bad as today or what was happening last night,” said Slate on Sunday, explaining the crosswalks have been defaced at least twice so far by tire-spinning vandals laying an ugly track of rubber.
“It’s 100 per cent on purpose,” added Humphrey. “It’s very intentional.”
Humphrey said vandals strike almost every year through burnouts, and it’s a common practice in some other communities also, such as Lethbridge.
The two said vandalism isn’t going to stop the society from doing what it does: bring the community together, help everyone feels safe and inclusive, host a pride week every year, and so on.
“That’s why we need pride, that’s why we paint the crosswalk every year, that’s why our organization exists – to combat this sort of mentality in our community, and the more education and awareness we can do, the better,” Humphrey explained.
“Yes, the vandalism on crosswalk sucks, yes it’s considered a hate crime, yes it’s punishable, you can be punished for vandalism, but the more these things happen, the more people are talking about it.
“And the more they’re talking about it, the more we’re spreading that education piece and finding allies in the community,” said Humphrey.
The Central Alberta Pride Week officially kicked off Sunday with a proclamation at Red Deer City Hall.
The society postponed the Fruit Float, which was expected to take place Sunday, to Aug. 18 due to cooler weather.
The society has events scheduled every day for the next week, including a Rainbow Block Party (hosted by TANAS) on Wednesday, a comedy night featuring Bull Skit Comedy on Thursday, Pride Week Bowling Night on Friday and Pride in the Park on Saturday.
For more information, visit centralalbertapride.ca.