Moncton puts rainbow crosswalks on hold, citing public safety concerns
A rainbow crosswalk is seen in Halifax.
MONCTON, N.B. -- There won't be any rainbow crosswalks in Moncton, N.B., this year while city officials await a national report looking into the safety of the crossings.
Moncton spokeswoman Isabelle LeBlanc says city officials are waiting for a study by the Transportation Association of Canada before deciding whether to paint the multi-coloured crosswalks.
The city had painted some crosswalks in 2017 to show support for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer but abandoned the practice last year, citing safety concerns.
A memo from New Brunswick's transportation department in March 2018 told municipalities it did not approve of rainbow crosswalks because they violated federal guidelines, but then-premier Brian Gallant immediately said that was incorrect and encouraged communities to "show their colours."
Charles MacDougall, a co-ordinator with River of Pride, a Moncton area LGBTQ+ advocacy group, called the city's stance frustrating.
"There aren't any other municipalities in our experience that have regressed on their practice of painting rainbow crosswalks," he said Monday.
LeBlanc said the city will still show its support.
"Forty rainbow banners were produced last year to line up along Main Street," she said by email. "That initiative is continuing this year and likely for the next few as well." LeBlanc said the banners will go up shortly after July 7 and will remain until late August.
Erica Andersen of the Transportation Association of Canada said by email that additional research is needed on non-standard colours and designs for crosswalk pavement markings.
She said that in April a group looking into "decorative crosswalk pavement markings" found there was insufficient data to reach a conclusion. Andersen said she expects a new research project will be proposed this fall to look at "impacts on driver perception/recognition ... levels of driver or pedestrian distraction, effects on recognition by automated vehicles/driver assistance systems, and more."
She said results of the study "would likely be available sometime in 2021."
MacDougall said he's concerned with the long delay and worries the LGBTQ+ community won't be consulted.
"It's a large bureaucratic process that is far too complicated for our liking," he said. "We feel this is extremely disappointing, even a little annoying."
MacDougall said his group will continue to push to have the rainbow crosswalks in Moncton and is pleased neighbouring communities have kept them. "We're going to celebrate that Dieppe and Riverview and many other communities are embracing rainbow sidewalks," he said.
The issue of rainbow crosswalks has been a matter of debate in communities across the country. The Newfoundland town of Springdale came under scrutiny last year after refusing to allow one near a high school. The town council later agreed to hold a Pride Week.
-- By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton