A tale of two letters: Minister offers explanation for rainbow crosswalk confusion

Transportation Minister Bill Fraser says rainbow crosswalks are allowed in the province and the decision to install the crosswalks is up to each municipality.

Transportation Minister says it's up to municipalities whether or not they want to install the crosswalks

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser said it's up to municipalities whether or not they paint a rainbow crosswalk. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Fraser clarified on Tuesday rainbow crosswalks are allowed in the province and the decision to paint the coloured crosswalks is up to each municipality. 

The confusion started after Fraser sent out letters to 13 municipalities in March stating the province follows guidelines set out by the Transportation Association of Canada, which  stipulates crosswalks should be painted white.

But on Tuesday, Fraser said municipalities received an "incorrect version" of the letter and the province supports the decision to paint rainbow crosswalks. 

Fraser said the intent of the letter was to tell municipalities that engineers from across the country are working with the Transportation Association of Canada to see if there are any safety concerns with painting rainbow crosswalks. 

Transportation Minister Bill Fraser clarified rainbow crosswalks are allowed in the province, and the decision to install the crosswalks is up to each municipality. 0:48

The letter was in a response to a letter from the mayors of the province's francophone municipalities.

Fraser said his engineers wrote a letter in response telling municipalities not to paint rainbow crosswalks, but Fraser said he wasn't comfortable with that response and made changes to the draft. But the wrong letter was sent out, he said.

Meanwhile, Premier Brian Gallant tweeted on Monday afternoon that municipalities were allowed to paint rainbow crosswalks and "are encouraged to do so as an expression of pride and inclusiveness."

Safety risk?

Fraser said the research by engineers could lead to changes in the Transportation Association of Canada's guidelines. The minister said there hasn't been any proof that these crosswalks are safety hazards. 

"Technically, it hasn't been proven or disproved that it poses a safety risk," said Fraser.

Bill Fraser said the wrong letter was sent out to municipalities. (CBC)

While the decision to paint a rainbow crosswalk is up to municipalities, Fraser recommended putting white strips between the coloured strips and to not paint a rainbow crosswalk anywhere that you wouldn't put a regular crosswalk. 

Fraser said he hopes to have a report from the Transportation Association of Canada on the crosswalks by the end of the year, but there is no set timeline. 

The province will decide from there if it will change its guidelines or not.

"We should have a standard. Obviously, when we have these standards it's for the safety. It has nothing to do with whether you're inclusive or not; it has to do with the safety of the people using the crosswalk," said Fraser.