A pedestrian walks down Grant Street passing a newly painted street mandala on the pavement next to Haegert Park. The mandala

More street art slated for downtown

Four crosswalks on Fort and Blanshard Streets will be splashed with colour.

  • Sep. 2, 2015 12:00 p.m.

The City of Victoria isn’t planning on painting more sidewalks with rainbows any time soon, but a few crosswalks around Fort Street are about to be splashed with colour.

The Fort Street Business Association recently got the go-ahead from the city to place art on the street at all four crosswalks on the corner of Fort and Blanshard Streets. The design has yet to be revealed, but was created by a tattoo artist in the area. Around 29 businesses on Fort Street have kicked in funds for the project that’s been tossed around for the last year and a half.

“It’s going to be quite awesome and done in a tasteful way,” said Teri Hustins, co-chair of the Fort Street Business Association. She hopes the painting will begin some time after Labour Day.

“Some of the property owners in that block are really putting a lot of time and money into their properties, so the art that’s going down on that intersection has to be something that works with their building.”

To celebrate the city’s diversity leading up to Pride Week in early July, the city painted three permanent rainbow crosswalks on Pandora at Broad Street. Unanimously approved by council, the cost of painting the three crosswalks was $14,000, and aside from some minor vandalism a few weeks ago, the colourful crossings have been overwhelmingly positive thus far.

“There was a little criticism over the cost and things, but generally people have been very supportive,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday. “Every day I see people taking photos of themselves at the crosswalks, and that’s locals and lots of tourists. It’s a place that people come and take their photo when they are in Victoria.”

The idea was sparked when Loveday was in Edmonton for meetings and snapped a photo of a temporary rainbow crosswalk painted there, then posted it on social media. Much to his surprise, the post was the most popular the city has ever had.

Loveday said he is in favour of more art projects on city sidewalks and other infrastructure, but wants them to be lead by the community. Recently, the community of Fernwood painted its first street mandala on the pavement near Grant Street and Haegert Park. The idea arose about seven years ago, and was inspired by the many mandalas painted in Portland, Oregon’s neighbourhoods.

“I think the rainbow crosswalks is an example of what you can do to make a normal piece of infrastructure into a special place,” said Loveday, adding the city has a strategic plan to help facilitate projects such as this.

“The rainbow crosswalks came from city council, but I would like to see more of it coming from the community and the city facilitate in helping it happen.”

In July 2013, Vancouver unveiled Canada’s first permanent rainbow-coloured crosswalk in the heart of its LGBTQ-friendly David Street Village to kick off the city’s Pride Week celebrations.

— Pamela Roth

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