New Brunswick

Rainbow crosswalks return to downtown Moncton, despite staff concerns over safety

Rainbow crosswalks will return this summer to several downtown Moncton crosswalks after city council voted unanimously Monday to resume the practice a year after it was halted over liability concerns.

Councillors vote unanimously to resume painting colourful crossings in support of LGBTQ community

Rainbow crosswalks will return to intersections like Main and Lutz streets in Moncton after council voted unanimously Monday to resume painting them downtown. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Rainbow crosswalks will return this summer to downtown Moncton crosswalks after councillors brushed aside staff concerns that it would open the city to liability risks.

City councillors voted unanimously in favour Monday of a motion by Coun. Shawn Crossman to paint several Main Street crossings in support of the LGBTQ community. 

"I'm relieved," Charles MacDougall, project co-ordinator with River of Pride, said following the vote. "You know, it's definitely great to be able to put this behind us."

He said it was unfortunate it was an issue of contention for more than a year, but said it was great councillors showed the city supports the LGBTQ community. 

"I'm very happy that city council has proven to the LGBTQ community that we support them 100 per cent," Crossman said.

He said the crosswalks could be painted in the coming days, depending on the weather. 

Impacting public safety

Council went against city staff's recommendation to stick with white or yellow paint.

"Allowing devices such as crosswalks to be modified for advertising or for group support could negatively impact public safety and reduce the effectiveness of the device," a city staff report about Crossman's motion said. 

"Modifying these devices for appearances without proper research could create a higher level of risk to the municipality, should a pedestrian be injured on a non-standard rainbow coloured enhanced crosswalk," the report said.

Charles MacDougall, project co-ordinator with River of Pride, says it was a relief that council voted to resume painting rainbow crosswalks. (Shane Magee/CBC)

At the centre of the issue are a set of guidelines developed by the Transportation Association of Canada meant to establish uniform road markings across the country. The guidelines suggest strips of white paint for crosswalks and don't mention other colours or patterns. 

Erica Andersen, a spokesperson for the group, said in a statement last week there's insufficient data or research to issue guidance on non-standard crosswalks. Research and new guidelines may not be complete until 2021, Andersen said. 

Andersen also said the association's guidelines aren't meant to be used as the basis for establishing civil liability.

City staff said Transportation Association of Canada guidelines suggesting white strips for crosswalks should be followed. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)

Pierre Boudreau, Moncton's deputy mayor, was the only councillor who spoke against the motion based on liability concerns. Last year, he said it would be "foolhardy" to do anything other than follow the national guidelines.

Boudreau, though, voted in favour after the 24-minute council discussion.

Coun. Bryan Butler said elected officials can decide whether to take on risks based on staff advice.

Coun. Shawn Crossman, left, introduced the motion calling for the city to resume painting rainbow crosswalks. (Shane Magee/CBC)

"Unless something drastic happens that we have to come and revisit it, this should be put to bed," Butler said. "From now on, there will be rainbow crosswalks in the City of Moncton and we'll leave it at that."

Showing city's 'true colours'

Other city councillors pointed to hateful comments on social media as the vote approached and the political climate in the United States as reasons to resume painting the crosswalks.

"You know after a while, you get to a point where you have to do the right thing," Coun. Charles Leger said. "And certainly, I think, send the message of tolerance and of accepting everybody. And I think that's really important." 

Coun. Blair Lawrence said he didn't want to wait years for the national research to be complete.

He said he hasn't seen a crosswalk with white paint and blocks of colour that's less visible than a standard crossing. 

"I think we need to stand tall and show our true colours," Lawrence said.


Shane Magee


Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC. He can be reached at