How did Council get to squabbling over when Rainbow Crosswalks should be installed?

By Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2021



How many ways are there to pay for the Rainbow Crosswalks City Council wants to install?

An initiative that was a really good idea; something that was important to do got politicized during the budget exercises which is unfortunate.
The LGBTQ2S+ community is a distinct part of the diverse community that Burlington has become. The recognition those brightly painted crosswalks provide is important. They are statements that needed to be made.

The crosswalks are not cheap – they come in at $10,000 plus each and funds have to be set aside to keep them sharp looking.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward has politicized the Rainbow Crosswalk initiative and made it her own. Is it going to backfire on her?

A number of Councillors felt that having three in place at this point and making room in future budgets was a fiscally prudent thing to do.

Mayor Meed Ward felt that all six were needed now and she wondered aloud if some of the public art money could be made available to pay for the final three.

And so the squabbling began with the City Manager dragged into the issue.

When three Council members disagreed with the Mayor on the timing of the installation she took it upon herself to make a public statement that made it sound as if the three, Councillors Sharman, Stolte and Kearns, were somehow anti LGBTQ2S+; nothing could be further than the truth.

Did Public Art funds pay for the Black Lives Matter art work done on the sidewalk outside City Hall ? Has the fund become the Mayor’s piggy bank?

During the summer when people were outdoors a large graphic was painted on the sidewalk outside city hall. Public Art funds were found to pay for what was a strong Black Lives Matter statement.

Politicians have their favourite projects; they currently have a budget to pay for projects within their wards.  The Mayor has a very healthy budget that she reports on publicly.

In the ten years the Gazette has been covering city Council we have never before seen so much nasty squabbling.  There are numerous examples of this poor behaviour – what is most disturbing is that this situation impacts on a community that has had attention it did not need.  Real people with real issues are being hurt – all the satisfy a small political objective.

The Mayor was very much a part of that initiative.

The LGBTQ2S+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit.

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6 comments to How did Council get to squabbling over when Rainbow Crosswalks should be installed?

  • Mozelle Cole

    I see that, despite the outcry, our mayor went ahead and taught the Catholics a lesson.
    It saddened me to see yet another $10,000.00 of my money spent to do just that. I could have used some of that money for groceries. I salute Norfolk County. They are asking those that desire these applications, to raise the funds. What a great concept… the taxpayers there don’t have to foot the bill.

  • Eve St Clair

    Hopefully voters will remember this for the next Mayoral election and vote the virtue signallers out of office

  • Penny Hersh

    I was more than surprised to hear that for Councillor Nisan not providing the funding for the Rainbow Sidewalks in this budget was very upsetting to him. Really.

    Small business is struggling with keeping viable as a result of Covid. Front line workers are dealing with exhaustion and burnout. Residents have been getting ill, elective surgeries have been postponed, students have had to learn online.

    We have at last count 13 taxi’s operating in Burlington. Public transit routes have been altered, because of lack of drivers.

    Omicron is creating havoc with residents who are double vaccinated and some with boosters testing positive for this variant. It is near impossible for residents to get free or even buy Rapid Covid Tests, and many pharmacies have not received the vaccine needed to provide the much needed “shots in the arm”that every country is insisting is necessary to try to slow down the spread. Not stop the spread, simply slow it down so that hospitals and staff can cope with patients.

    I am not saying that Rainbow Sidewalks are not important, what I am saying is that things need to be put in perspective.

  • Tom Muir

    Maybe when they were looking the other way when, despite lots of warning, the Covid went nuts – 655 cases in Halton reported for Monday, 211 for Burlington. There is no room on the cases graph to take anything like the spike height.

    Likely includes some leftover no report for the weekend, but maybe Council can pay some attention now the budget is behind.