Sections of the crosswalk near Church and Wellesley streets will be painted in rainbow colours in the run-up to June’s WorldPride festivities.
Toronto City Council approved the decision Feb 20, with only Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Councillor Doug Ford voting against the motion. Meanwhile, Pride Toronto has opened the call for its annual honoured positions.
“The rainbow flag is a sign of welcoming for our community, and we’re welcoming the world,” says Kevin Beaulieu, executive director of WorldPride. “When you see the flag, you know someone values you and respects you.”
The motion states that both east-west crosswalks on Wellesley Street shall be painted rainbow “in celebration of WorldPride.” The entire $50,000 cost is being covered by allocating funds from a nearby developer.
Known as Section 37 funds, developers pay the city extra fees when their projects exceed normal city-planning guidelines. The city then uses the funds to develop nearby parks, infrastructure or streetscapes. In this case, the developers of 66 Isabella St contributed $450,000 in order to almost double the building’s size.
The motion was carried after a 40-2 vote, with only the Ford brothers opposed.
Paint will likely not hit the pavement until spring. Ryerson University paid almost $200,000 for a nearby street mural that was washed away in January by snow. Beaulieu says to expect the rainbow road in the days leading up to WorldPride.
“We want to have this new paint in place right before the festivities start,” he says.
Beaulieu says the city will work out logistics, including whether crosswalks or nearby roads will be painted. He tells Xtra that he’s heard it’s easier to paint asphalt for long-term use than cement, which lines the crosswalks at Church and Wellesley.
“No paint on the roads last forever, but it will be there for a while,” Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who proposed the motion, said on Twitter.
Beaulieu was not sure how the idea first came about but said it was enthusiastically accepted when first proposed to the city last fall. Toronto is following Vancouver, which installed a permanent rainbow crosswalk last summer in the city’s Davie Village.
WorldPride also announced Feb 21 it is accepting nominations for honoured positions.
Until March 21, WorldPride will accept nominations for grand marshal, honoured group, honoured dyke, honoured dyke group, honoured trans individual and honoured trans group. Pride Toronto will select nominees, who must reside in the Greater Toronto Area, based on their community involvement.
“We’re welcoming the world at Pride, but these positions are meant to honour the many locals who have had an impact on the community,” Beaulieu says.
From leading the Pride parade to kicking off events, those chosen will act as ambassadors under the festival’s theme, Rise Up. Those selected by the committee are not paid, but are given budgets for logistics.