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'Incredibly exciting': Waterdown rainbow crosswalks to be installed in May
April 26, 2022

Two rainbow crosswalks incorporating the Pride and trans flags will be installed in Waterdown in May.

The crosswalks were initiated by Waterdown’s Jennifer Valeri through the city’s decorative crosswalk guideline. In an email obtained by the Review, the City of Hamilton indicated the crosswalks will be installed at the entrance to Waterdown District High School, Allan A. Greenleaf Elementary School and the Flamborough Family YMCA -- and the adjacent intersection of Parkside Drive and Keewaydin Street -- May 15 or May 16, weather dependent.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” Valeri said of the pending installation. “I’m just really excited to get it on the ground and to see kids in the community start using it.”

The plan grew out of an incident where a Pride flag belonging to Valeri’s daughter Hannah, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, was torn down at Valeri’s Waterdown home in 2021 -- which also sparked a community event where more than 250 Pride flags were handed out. Valeri then proposed the crosswalks, and her family had decided to pay for the installation out of pocket, but after the flag event, many people tried to give her money for the flags, so she asked them to instead put money toward the crosswalks.

The fundraiser has garnered more than $3,000 in donations, and the excess funds will be donated equally to the Flamborough Food Bank and Food With Grace Waterdown Food Bank.

“I’m so grateful for the whole community supporting the GoFundMe to be able to fund the project -- I didn’t expect that to happen -- we had expected to pay for it,” she said. “It feels like what happened to our family has really come full-circle, and it helps us with our closure, as well, to feel like something really positive came out of what happened here.

Valeri appeared at the City of Hamilton’s LGBTQ Advisory Committee on April 19 to unveil a new design incorporating the trans flag -- a design that won approval from the committee. The city had originally hoped to have the crosswalks installed in October 2021, but after Valeri appeared at the LGBTQ advisory committee in the fall, the design was changed to incorporate the trans flag.

She noted the design -- which will see the colours of the Pride and trans flags replace the white bars of a ladder crosswalk -- met the engineering requirements for the crosswalk and the esthetic and inclusivity considerations raised by the advisory committee. Valeri said the committee was “instrumental” in making sure the project was as inclusive as possible.

“They hold such an important role in our community, and I really want to remind folks that when they go to do projects with the city, that this is just the kind of committee you want to consult to make sure you’re really meeting the needs of community members,” she said of the LGBTQ advisory committee.

Valeri said after the crosswalk is installed, she plans to hold a community event to unveil the crosswalks, inviting the community, Hamilton Police, members of the city’s LGBTQ advisory committee and LGBTQ groups and organizations. As well, she said Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, Ward 15 trustee Penny Deathe and Coun. Judi Partridge have indicated a willingness to participate.

A date for the event has not yet been set.

“The goal of the reception will be to connect members of our community with different organizations that are out there and different people that support the LGBTQIA and Two-Spirited communities so there are resources for everybody and everybody knows what those resources are,” Valeri said. “I think what happens up here sometimes is Waterdown acts like a little bit of a bubble, so I really want to introduce people from all over the city that helped make this project possible and that would be good resources -- especially for our youth -- moving forward.”