Port Dover Rainbow crosswalk fundraising on now

Rainbow crosswalk that was installed in Simcoe earlier this month.

Plans to install rainbow crosswalk at Main and Chapman intersection in Port Dover

 

JUNE is Pride Month and a group of Port Dover businesses are working together to fundraise for a new rainbow crosswalk.

The initiative is led by Anthony Randall and Robyn York of Beach Reads Bookshop.

“Beach Reads Bookstore is an inclusive business and we wanted to do something to show we support our LGBTQ2S+ community beyond just letting them know they are welcome in the store,” Mr. Randall said.

Anthony Randall and Robyn York of Beach Reads Bookshop are leading an initiative for a rainbow crosswalk in Port Dover.

Mr. Randall and Ms. York gathered together a small group of like-minded business owners to brainstorm ideas. The group decided the easiest and most direct way to make an impact was for each of them to make a donation toward having a rainbow crosswalk painted in Port Dover, and then encouraging other businesses and residents to donate as well.

The assembly of merchants is now partnered with Ryder’s Rainbow, a community-led initiative formed to support the advocacy efforts of 10-year-old Ryder Mandryk.

In 2021, Ryder appeared in front of Norfolk County Council requesting support for a rainbow crosswalk in Simcoe. Council didn’t object to the project proceeding, but balked at offering any financial support. Council informed Ryder and her support team that all funds would have to be raised privately if the project was to proceed.

The crosswalk was initially estimated to cost between $7000 and $10,000. The Ryder’s Rainbow team raised $7000 and tried again in 2022 to have the crosswalk painted. At that time, they learned the cost had risen to $15,000.

Municipal staff provided a report to council recommending council match Ryder’s Rainbow’s contribution if the group could increase its fundraising total to $7500. Staff informed council that decorative crosswalks improve traffic safety, enhance walkability, increase visibility, and create a more comfortable environment for pedestrians.

Staff also noted that a rainbow crosswalk would help meet Norfolk County’s Strategic Priority of fostering vibrant, creative communities, specifically by harnessing change, embracing new ideas, creating an environment for opportunity, facilitating places for people to collaborate, and building a strong community where no one is left behind.

Promotes inclusion & awareness

In the same report, staff said that rainbow crosswalks give a visible indication that everyone is valued as part of an inclusive and healthy community, and that it was time for Norfolk County to demonstrate support and promote inclusion and awareness for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Ryder, her mother Melissa Reu and project supporter Adam Veri of Port Dover were interviewed by CHCH television at the Simcoe crosswalk.

Staff informed council that funds were available within the existing roads budget and the crosswalk would not require any additional funding allocation. Despite the recommendation from staff, only Councillor Kim Huffman and former councilor Ian Rabbitts supported Ryder’s request, and financial support was again denied.

Ryder’s efforts caught the attention of the Audrey S. Hellyer Foundation which came forward with a $10,000 contribution to ensure the crosswalk went ahead.

The funds for the Simcoe crosswalk were submitted to Norfolk County on June 27, 2022.

Due to procurement issues, the crosswalk project was put off until 2023. Work on installation in Simcoe began at the intersection of Union Street and Norfolk Street South in June.

Mr. Randall said he and Ms. York are inspired by Ryder’s perseverance, especially in light of the hostile, often cruel, online comments.

“The negativity after Ryder’s first time at council was disheartening,” Mr. Randall said. “Her dedication made us want to do something on behalf of our many friends and other people close to us who identify as part of the Pride community.”

“Visibility is important, especially in small towns where support networks may not be as apparent,” Mr. Randall added.

The Beach Reads Bookstore initiative has already raised $1500 in donations from businesses and individuals in the community. Donors include Pearl’s, Thompson Waters Funeral Home, Dover Mercantile, Janet Hepburn, Gay Brzozowski, Bachmann Personal Injury Law, Zee’s Shoes and Apparel, Cottage North Soap Works, Dover Cheese Shop, Childs Financial Services, Mary Etta McGraw, Pink Door Cookies, and Beach Reads Bookstore.

The campaign has also received a major boost from Edward Jones Financial Advisor Kristina Kett, who has pledged to match up to $3000 in donations.

Ryder Mandryk, 10, and Kristina Kett are working to see a rainbow crosswalk in Port Dover.

Like Mr. Randall and Ms. York, Ms. Kett saw the coverage of Ryder’s request to council and the subsequent fundraising efforts and wanted to get involved.

“I immediately knew that if we weren’t going to get the county behind it that individuals and businesses surely could support it,” Ms. Kett said.

“Personally, and within my company, we firmly support diversity and we support people taking the initiative to be the voice for those who are voiceless. We have a very strong culture of diversity and inclusion, and that is across all spectrums,” she added.

Rainbow crosswalk costs $17,000

The cost of the proposed Port Dover rainbow crosswalk is $17,000. Ms. Kett hopes that her support, along with the support of Port Dover’s downtown merchants, inspires more people to support Ryder’s efforts.

“When we’re in a small town, it’s important to support people who are taking their own initiative to better the community, and to better the community for the next generation,” Ms. Kett said.

“There is no better reason to support an initiative than if it’s coming from the heart of a child.”

Ryder’s Rainbow has requested and received tentative approval for the rainbow crosswalk to be painted at the intersection of Chapman Street and Main Street. If the funds are raised by the end of June, a September installation is possible.

Ways to contribute

There are several ways to contribute to the Port Dover rainbow crosswalk initiative.

  • To donate online, send an e-transfer to donate@rydersrainbow.com.
  • Donations can be made in person at Port Dover Scotiabank, or at Beach Reads Bookstore.
  • Supporters can also donate at Beach Reads Bookstore, The Shanty, Zee’s Shoes and Apparel, and Dover Mercantile to receive a Port Dover Pride pin or decal as a thank-you for contributing.

 

For more information about the Ryder’s Rainbow crosswalk project visit rydersrainbow.com. For more information on Pride activities and initiatives in Norfolk County, visit pridehaldimandnorfolk.com.

 

Originally Published June 14, 2023

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