Vandals deface town's rainbow bench

The town is repairing a vandalized bench painted in the colours of the Pride flag after it was defaced with apparent homophobic slurs.

The bench, which had been installed at Centennial Sports Park in Virgil, was defaced with messages “interpreted by town staff to be intentionally hurtful to those the bench represents.”

A town spokesperson said “it was very disheartening to see this” and they hope it “will remain free of vandalism in the future.”

The bench was removed to repair the damage and staff said it will be a few weeks before it can be returned to its seat at Centennial Park.

Richard Mell, who sits on the diversity, equity and inclusion committee, said the town was “very vague” when it mentioned the news of the vandalism on social media on Oct. 25.

"If it was – you know – hateful, homophobic language then I feel that the response should have been stronger,” Mell told The Lake Report.

The town did not explicitly describe the messages as homophobic.

News of the damage was posted to Facebook and commenting on the post was disabled.

Mayor Walter Sendzik of St. Catharines dealt with a similar act of vandalism to a crosswalk in June last year.

He opted to publicly decry the vandalism over Twitter.

This bench is one of five approved this year by council. The other four are planned for Mary and King streets, the Queenston firehall, Sparky’s Park in St. Davids and Niagara on the Green park.

The town also plans to paint the crosswalk at Anderson Lane in Pride colours. While that plan has been approved, it's not known when the crosswalk will be completed.

This bench was installed Sept. 23 after being approved by council July 25.

Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report