THUNDER BAY – Jason Veltri says a walk across a Thunder Bay street never felt so good.
The chair of Thunder Pride Association, Veltri on Thursday strolled across the first of two rainbow and one transgender crosswalks being installed on city streets to celebrate the 2SLGBTIQ+ culture, a strong message of inclusion in a city not always known for its tolerance.
Two of the colourful crosswalks are being put in place at the intersection of Bay and Algoma, while the third is expected to be completed on Friday on Donald Street adjacent to city hall.
It’s a powerful message, Veltri said.
“The message I want this to show is that we hear you, we see you and we’re there with you, no matter if you’re in the closet, struggling with your identity, both sexual or gender, or an ally. And more so than ever, we need more allies in this world.
“So this is one project that kind of highlights that.”
The project is a partnership between Thunder Pride and the City of Thunder Bay, who are each footing 25 per cent of the cost, and the installer, North-West Lines is covering half the estimated $28,000 cost.
“It’s such a special day to see the colours go down on the road. This again is more than just paint or plastic on the road. This is about the messaging and the symbol that we are together as a community, striving to do better every day. A little colour doesn’t hurt anyone,” Veltri said.
Northwood Coun. Shelby Ch’ng was also on hand as workers laid down the second crosswalk, using gas-fired torches to melt the material in place.
It’s expected to last up to five years.
“I think this is really heartwarming to see,” Ch’ng said.
“It’s a symbol of Thunder Bay moving forward and understanding that diversity is going to be a major factor … in our community.”
It took less than a year to go from the planning stage to the installation phase.
That’s absolutely amazing, the second-term councilor said.
“I’m so happy that it’s being done,” she said.
“I think it’s (a message) of inclusion and recognition, because for so long, people have gone unrecognized throughout history. The person that they loved, they couldn’t hold their hand in public. I think we’re at a place where not only can they be recognized, but celebrated as unique relationships that don’t fit the socio-hetero norm.”