It’s Pride Month, and the town is planning a survey in the coming weeks to determine where a rainbow crosswalk should be located in town, as well as preferable sites for five rainbow benches.
There will be a choice of three locations offered for the crosswalk, and an opportunity to offer another alternative.
In January, during the town’s 2022 budget discussions, it was agreed that $15,000 be put aside for a Pride crosswalk, to be located somewhere outside the heritage district — at one time, the intersection of King and Queen Streets was discussed but dropped.
During budget discussions Coun. Gary Burroughs asked that the rainbow crosswalk be deferred until 2023, to allow for more public discussion. Although there was public consultation on social media, “it didn’t have a huge response,” Burroughs said, and there had been no discussion with the public about where the crosswalk would be located. Burroughs intended his motion to defer the decision until budget discussions of 2023, “once we have more detail on location.”
Instead, his motion was changed to include consultation about the location of the crosswalk, as well as five rainbow benches, to be scattered around the municipality, but not to put off installations until 2023.
Monday night’s council meeting included a brief discussion about the crosswalk and benches, and it was agreed the survey will be launched in June and available for two weeks, since most responses come in that time frame, soon after a survey is posted and advertised, councillors were told.
On Wednesday, June 1, the town announced it is now available online, until June 15 at www.jointheconversationnotl.org/rainbow-crosswalk-benches.
The town has received a grant to fund one rainbow bench to be installed in the Queen Street area. The bench and paint have been purchased according to the requirements of the grant. Funding is available within the operations department operating budget to fund the other four benches, and the $15,000 was approved for the rainbow crosswalk, a staff report says.
As directed by council during that January 2022 meeting, a public survey regarding the placement of the rainbow crosswalk and benches has been developed, through consultation between staff and the town’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Committee.
The survey questions are:
1. The following locations have been suggested as potential areas for a rainbow crosswalk. Please select all of your preferred locations.
a) Intersection of King Street and Front Street
b) Intersection of Niagara Stone Road and Anderson Lane
c) Intersection of Wellington Street and Picton Street
d) Other: (please specify or leave comments)
The intersection of Queen Street and Mississagua Street was originally a fourth potential location, but was dropped due to the upcoming construction work in that area, the town staff report explains.
2. The following locations have been suggested as potential areas for rainbow benches in Niagara-on-the-Lake: Mary Street and King Street (Old Town), Centennial Park (Virgil), Queenston Firehall (Queenston), Sparky’s Park (St. Davids), and Niagara on the Green Park (Glendale).
Are you in favour of these locations?
c) Other: (please specify or leave comments)
The survey also gives instructions for those who are interested in making a donation toward these projects.
After the two-week survey, staff is expected to report on the results and move forward with the installation process soon after.
The town expects to use the same rainbow crosswalk design as in other municipalities, the report said.
Burroughs questioned whether staff is knowledgeable about creating surveys — he indicated that it asks where the crosswalk should be located, not whether people agree there should be one, although that was not what council directed staff to do — and after assurances from CAO Marnie Cluckie, said “I think we should spend some time getting a good, unbiased survey, whatever the topic.” He added he knows that will be the case with the involvement of the CAO.