New Brunswick

Rainbow stalemate: Moncton's colourful crosswalks won't return

Moncton's rainbow crosswalks in support of LGBTQ people won't return after two motions at a committee meeting resulted in a tie.

Councillors who reject rainbow crosswalks on Main Street favour supporting LGBTQ community in other ways

Moncton councillors weighed painting rainbow crosswalks, like this one in Newfoundland, on Main Street. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Moncton won't repaint nine crosswalks in rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ community.

Two city council committee votes Monday resulted in a stalemate, leaving staff to examine other ways the municipality can show support. 

The change comes after confusion over whether municipalities can use multiple colours to mark pedestrian crossings or follow national guidelines set by the Transportation Association of Canada that call for white or yellow.

The city has painted rainbow crosswalks on Main Street between Lutz and Mechanic streets in 2016 and 2017. They were not repainted this year.

One motion Monday called for following national standards, while the second called for mainly white crossings with colourful blocks.

The ties meant both motions failed.

Charles MacDougall, project co-ordinator with LGBTQ support and advocacy group River of Pride, said he was surprised.

"I was expecting council to be supportive of rainbow crosswalks," MacDougall said.

Members of the public, including Charles MacDougall of River of Pride, watch a Moncton council committee meeting that considered whether to paint rainbow crosswalks on Main Street. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Stephane Thibodeau, Moncton's parking and transportation co-ordinator, said rainbow colours could open the city to liability risks since they aren't following national standards for crosswalks.

"I am certainly not prepared to expose the city to any liability to an accident occurring there," Coun. Pierre Boudreau said at the meeting, calling it "foolhardy" to do otherwise.

Thibodeau said he's not aware of colourful crosswalks causing issues in Moncton or elsewhere in the country.

How council voted

Councillors who voted both times against painting the rainbow crosswalks were Boudreau, Greg Turner, Paulette Thériault and Bryan Butler. Voting in favour were Blair Lawrence, Charles Leger, Shawn Crossman and Mayor Dawn Arnold.

Councillors Paul Pellerin, Susan Edgett and Robert McKee were absent for the votes.

MacDougall said he doesn't take the results as a lack of support for the LGBTQ community, as councillors who voted against rainbow crosswalks expressed a desire for other ways to show support.

Isabelle LeBlanc, the city's director of communications, said after the two votes that staff will consider alternatives such as painting a portion of the Riverfront Trail, working with Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc. to place flags on light posts or decorating the pedway over Main Street near City Hall.

City manager Marc Landry said staff will look into the options.

Provincial letter

The committee's decision comes after Bill Fraser, New Brunswick's minister of transportation and infrastructure, sent a letter to 13 southeastern communities March 29 saying the province wouldn't approve painting rainbow crosswalks. Fraser cited the national guidelines.

Premier Brian Gallant weighed in June 4 by tweet, saying municipalities are allowed to paint rainbow crosswalks.

Fraser sent a second letter June 6 to the municipalities apologizing the earlier letter with his signature was an "incorrect version" and that the province supports painting rainbow crosswalks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC. He can be reached at shane.magee@cbc.ca and on Twitter at @mageecbc.

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