More than a year ago – in mid-June 2021, to be precise – we were all in on a proposal to install a rainbow crosswalk in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
As we noted in an editorial, “Niagara-on-the-Lake is ahead of the curve in so many ways. And so behind in others.”
We lauded the efforts of NOTL resident Jordon Williams to have a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of King and Queen streets, suggesting the lack of one – and community resistance to the idea – was an example of how our “progressive” and “friendly” little town is behind the times in some ways.
In fact, we urged the Town of NOTL to jump on the bandwagon and find a way to make it happen in time for the annual Pride celebration. A year ago.
So, here we are in August 2022, with no rainbow crosswalk (yet) largely because of community resistance, some, though not all of it, rooted in barely disguised homophobia.
Since the idea was first broached by Williams, we have missed two opportunities to have had the crosswalk ready for Pride celebrations.
Yes, town council has finally approved a location for it, so maybe by this time next year multi-coloured paint will coat the pavement at the intersection of Anderson Lane and Niagara Stone Road. And some rainbow benches.
The crosswalk location is about as far as you can go from central Old Town and still say, “Yes, it’s in Old Town.”
It is probably the least-contentious, least-offensive (for those offended by such public displays), least-noticeable site possible, but pardon us if it feels like an afterthought.
Or a politically expedient, election-year choice that at least tells people, “Hey, the town did something.”
Sure, there is lots of bike and car traffic with the cycling trail and the community centre a stone’s throw away.
But it’s not going to have nearly the impact and presence – or message – that a rainbow walk would have had on Queen Street (though King and Queen didn’t even make the shortlist) or on King near Queen’s Royal Park, or at Wellington and Picton.
We acknowledge some opponents expressed thoughtful concerns about why they disliked a downtown location. But we couldn’t help but detect a lot of other objections – especially on the cesspool that is social media – were simply rooted in “why them?” anti-gay rhetoric.
This just feels like a missed opportunity by a town that likes to think of itself as “friendly” and “progressive.” In this instance, we’d grudgingly give council a passing grade. Barely.
Looking ahead, however, and perhaps we’ll have to wait on the transportation master plan to be finalized, Queen Street needs more crosswalks to enable pedestrians to safely venture across our main street.
The lone crossing near the clock tower is not nearly enough.