Corrie Brown gets to work repainting the rainbow crosswalk Thursday morning, after it was defaced with the words ‘mentally ill” written in spray paint. This is the fourth time the cross walk has been repainted since it was first done in June. Photos by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Sylvan Lake’s rainbow crosswalk defaced with homophobic message

The crosswalk was repainted Thursday morning to remove traces of the spray-painted words

A small group of volunteers were out at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library Thursday morning to cover up hurtful vandalism on the rainbow crosswalk.

The words “mentally ill” were written over the rainbow paint along the sidewalk intersection to the public parking lot next to the library.

This is the fourth time the art installation has been painted over since it was painted in June in celebration of Pride Month.

READ MORE: Sylvan Lake Municipal Library creates rainbow crosswalk in time for Pride Month

The Sylvan Lake Pride Community called the vandalism cowardly and the act of bigots.

“We will not allow the actions of cowards and bigots to tell us that we are wrong, or that there is anything wrong with us,” the group wrote on their Instagram page.

According to the Town of Sylvan Lake, vandalism and graffiti are not tolerated in anyway.

Joanne Gaudet says vandalism is covered in the Town’s Community Standards Bylaw, which describes graffiti as anything illegally placed on public or private property which cannot be removed, like spray painting.

“We don’t tolerate it, even more so when it target a group of people or is bullying and hateful,” Gaudet said, adding any form of bullying is not tolerated by the Town.

The Sylvan Lake Pride Community said vandalism, homophobia, ignorance and hate goes against the Town’s slogan of Brilliant All Year.

“Paint on a road does not hurt anyone. It does not affect anyone but those who feel its support and empowerment,” the group said.

The art instalment was put into place through an agreement between the Library and the Town, and was supposed to be a temporary piece of art for the month of June.

After the crosswalk was vandalized the first time, the Library offered to repaint it as they had time and left over supplies to do so.

Gaudet called the vandalism unfortunate, and said if it happens the painting will be removed.

“It’s unfortunate, the crosswalk was painted as a celebration… If this happens again we will remove it, if not we will let it wash away like it was planned in the first place,” Gaudet said.

The Sylvan Lake Pride Community echoed Gaudet’s words saying the art piece is a “symbol of acceptance, hope and community.”

This is the first time the Town has worked with a special interest group in such away. Gaudet said the experience has shown the Town is lacking in proper procedures for future.

The Town had not prepared for the possibility of vandalism or the belief the art installation would be a permanent fixture.

“For us, it really shines a light that we need policies in place for this sort of thing. It is something we are working on so when special interest groups approach us in the future will have something in place,” Gaudet said.

The crosswalk was completely repainted by noon on Sept. 12, with many residents commenting it was a shame to see it defaced.

“Hate will never win, and it will never be the loudest voice. Love is what makes Sylvan Lake great,” the Sylvan Lake Pride Community said.

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