Sidney’s new rainbow crosswalk at Beacon Park made its official debut Thursday morning. The crowd celebrated with cupcakes (Maggie’s favourite: chocolate) and flew the rainbow and transgender pride flags.
At the ribbon cutting, Christy Smith said she felt grateful and wanted to thank Sidney mayor and council, municipal staff for painting the crosswalk, and Sidney/North Saanich RCMP for the Safe Place Program. She challenged other police departments across Vancouver Island to adopt the Safe Place program for their communities. Her two-year old daughter Maggie drew the rainbow picture that inspired the crosswalk.
Sidney Mayor Steve Price had Maggie’s original rainbow drawing framed, and during the event presented it back to Maggie as a keepsake.
“This crosswalk is our commitment to creating a community that is safe and inclusive for all people,” cried Kenny Podmore, the Sidney Town Crier.
Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Const. Meighan de Pass said she saw a sticker with the Safe Place program while in her hometown of Chilliwack, and thought it was a good idea. Smith contacted her about it a short time later, and said reaction was “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Even I’ve been surprised at the level of warmth, and how excited people are to participate in this program,” said de Pass.
The program is aimed at businesses, organizations and schools, rather than private residences, and is meant to provide a safe place for LGBTQ people if they are the victims of a crime. Groups are vetted by the RCMP and given stickers to place on windows. Businesses, organizations or schools with the sticker will then pledge to provide a place for LGBTQ people to take shelter and call 911. Training is also available for program participants.
She said there are about 10 businesses with stickers up, and those interested in joining should contact her at the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP detachment.
“Even if you’re not in distress but still a member of the [LGBTQ] community, that sticker is there to tell that person that this is a community that embraces diversity and is welcoming to everybody,” said de Pass.