OK2BME, a support service for LGBTQ+ youth in the Waterloo Region, is aiming to have a rainbow crosswalk at the Charles Street Bus Terminal and Victoria Park intersection in downtown Kitchener.

The crosswalk, which has already been approved by the City of Kitchener through the Love My Hood strategy in Jan. 2018, is set to be built by the end of May 2018, in time for the tri-Pride festival.

Communications and development coordinator at KW Counselling Services Scott Williams explained that the crosswalk will act as a more visible symbol of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

“We have a rainbow pride flag flying over our building year round, so that’s something that we thought [could be] an even brighter symbol,” Williams said.

Williams also said that the LGBTQ+ support service was inspired by other cities in Canada and their rainbow crosswalk initiatives, such as Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.

“All kinds of big cities have them, and we feel Kitchener should have one as well.”

According to Williams, the reception from the community has been nothing but positive.

“Especially from LGBTQ people,” Williams said. “We’re [also] incredibly grateful for the City’s support. I think it shows great support for the rainbow community, for sure … it’s really rewarding and gratifying.”

The crosswalk will cost approximately $15,000 and is aimed to be made with a thermal plastic material that is more resistant than other community crossings, as it has a greater friction that the asphalt it’s bonded to.

OK2BME is also looking forward to collaborating with the City of Waterloo in creating rainbow crosswalks in the uptown area.

“[The city of Waterloo] has been in touch with us to see if we’re interested in working with them, and absolutely, we are.”

OK2BME will continue collaborating in their biweekly leadership group and organize an event to prepare for the crosswalks.

“It’s just a really important symbol to show that Kitchener is a safe place for LGBTQ people,” Williams said.