The Pride flag is waving outside Niagara-on-the-Lake's town hall in honour of Pride month – but the much-discussed rainbow crosswalk and benches will have to await the results of an upcoming survey about possible locations before they're installed.
The survey will poll residents' opinions on the locations this month.
The survey question about crosswalk locations asks people to choose among the intersections of King and Front streets, Niagara Stone Road and Anderson Lane, Wellington and Picton streets, or a fourth option for an alternate location.
A staff report on the crosswalk says $15,000 has been set aside for its installation. The idea for the rainbow crosswalk was first suggested a year ago.
But according to the town report, a rainbow bench will be coming to Queen Street, thanks to funding the town received from the federal government's My Main Street program.
The report says the bench and paint have already been acquired. Staff did not respond by deadline to inquiries from The Lake Report about exactly where and when the bench will be installed.
Funding for four other benches is available through the town's operations department, the report says.
The survey lists possible locations for these other four benches as Mary and King streets, Centennial Park, the Queenston firehall, Sparky’s Park in St. Davids and Niagara-on-the-Green Park.
The question for these benches simply asks residents if they favour these locations and if they have another location to recommend.
Coun. Gary Burroughs, who said he requested the survey be done, expressed some discontent that the poll only asks people whether they like the locations and not whether they are in support of installing rainbow crosswalks and benches at all.
“It seems to say, ‘Here’s what we’re doing, how do you want to tweak it?’ Rather than a survey that has to deal with the issue,” Burroughs said during a Monday, May 30 council meeting.
Chief administrator Marnie Cluckie said the survey did not include such a question because the installation of the crosswalk and benches had been requested by town council.
“I’m happy with whatever decision is made but I do think we should spend some time getting a good, unbiased survey on whatever the topic is,” Burroughs responded.
Coun. Erwin Wiens raised the concern that the multi-coloured installation would undermine the fact the town requests businesses only use certain colours on their stores in the heritage district.
However, none of the crosswalk locations are within the heritage district, Coun. John Wiens responded.
But there is a further aspect to the rainbow work that Coun. Sandra O’Connor broached. She wondered about the status of a plan to create a rainbow garden in town.
Parks and recreation manager Kevin Turcotte said the focus now is on the benches and crosswalk – and a rainbow garden would have to wait until next year, especially as the town has already started its planting work for the season.
The survey launched on June 1 and will conclude June 15. It is available on the town's Join the Conversation website, https://www.jointheconversationnotl.org/ .