Norfolk staff is preparing a report on the costs and logistics of bringing rainbow-coloured, Pride crosswalks to the county’s urban areas following a request from an 8-year-old Norfolk boy.
“I would like to have a crosswalk in Norfolk County because there are a lot of LBGTQ+ people like me and we want to be supported and celebrated for being who we are,” Ryder Mandryk said in a deputation to Norfolk Council by video link on July 13.
On hand to assist Mandryk was Adam Veri of Port Dover. Veri told council these crosswalks require thermal paint and, as such, cost between $7,000 and $10,000 each, depending on length. Given the paint’s durability, Veri said rainbow crosswalks have a life span of about seven years.
Veri suggested Norfolk pay for the inaugural crosswalk while he and community supporters fundraise for the others.
Mandryk’s mother Melissa Reu, of Simcoe, said in an interview that the youngster displayed LGBTQ+ tendencies as early as age three. She said Ryder has always been feminine and was most happy playing with makeup and wearing girl’s clothing.
“The older he got, the more he would dress like a girl,” she said. “Today, he dresses as a girl and acts like a girl. It’s definitely who he was meant to be.”
Ryder took an interest in rainbow crosswalks, Reu said, following news that a similar crosswalk in Paris, Ontario had been vandalized. The boy thought rainbow crosswalks were a good idea, she said, and asked if they could just paint one of their own somewhere in downtown Simcoe.
“We want him to be proud of who he is,” Reu said. “We don’t want him to be ashamed of it.”
In his presentation to council, Mandryk expressed interest in having a Pride crosswalk in the area of the library at Governor Simcoe Square. Council thought this was a good idea but CAO Jason Burgess advised that the matter warrants further analysis.
“Having these crosswalks close to close-circuit television cameras would be helpful,” Burgess said. “Unfortunately, there have been some negative experiences with these crosswalks.
“There’s vandalism to them fairly shortly after they get installed. Having them well-lit within view would help maintain them.”
If there is to be a rainbow crosswalk at Governor Simcoe Square and Norfolk is to pay for it, Mayor Kristal Chopp suggested public works re-allocate funds already committed to the care and upkeep of county crosswalks for this purpose.