Rainbow street crossings on the way - maybe something really spectacular if Councillor Sharman has his way.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

September 11th, 2019



With 1500 plus people attending a very inclusive event at the Art Gallery it was not unusual to see city council decide that it too could make a difference and get its inclusivity colours out there.

Councillors Galbraith and Kearns got together to decide they would ask their colleagues to support their decision to put in a “rainbow” crosswalk.

Heck, Hamilton has one – we could do the same thing – and we might even go several steps further.

The city wants to be aboard the emerging focus on the LGTBQ2IS+ community. This year the City raised the Pride flag for the month of June. This fall, the Art Gallery of Burlington’s new exhibit “The Gender Conspiracy” opened. Burlington’s Inclusivity Advisory Committee, at their June 2019 meeting, supported working on Pride events for June 2020 with staff and citizens.

HRPS cruieser with rainbow stripes

The Regiomal police were one of the first to show their colours.

An area where numerous municipalities are also showing their support for Pride and the LGTBQ2IS+ community is installation of rainbow painted crosswalks at controlled intersections. It is an important public statement of welcome and inclusion that will be available year-round in our City.

In discussions with staff, Galbraith and Kearns felt it was time for the City to initiate a rainbow crosswalk. A staff direction was needed now so that the crosswalk could be painted in the spring in time for Pride 2020. They recommend the following staff direction:

“Direct the Director of Transportation Services to work with Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and the Aldershot Community in determining the most suitable location(s) to install rainbow crosswalks in the City of Burlington in recognition of Pride and inclusivity; and,

That the installation(s) be completed prior to Pride Month 2020.”

Well, they went quite a bit further than that. Director of Transportation Vito Tolone said there was enough money in the budget to put in at least two rainbow crosswalks.

He was given thee task of coming up with a list of all the places a rainbow crosswalk might be suitable.  Opposite the Art Gallery is a sure bet.

Four way - all way pedestrian crossing

A four way – all way crosswalk – where all traffic is stopped and the public uses the space for a couple of minutes and then it reverts to traffic. Sharman saw the stripes as being rainbow.

It then became a bit of a contest to see which wards would have the first rainbow crosswalk.

Councillor Sharman blew the debate wide open when he suggested: “Why are we limiting ourselves to just one crosswalk taking people from one side of the street to the other.?”

Sharman suggested the city consider installing a four way – all way rainbow crosswalk.  He didn’t get a round of applause for that one – but if this idea has legs you just might see something like that in front of city hall joining it to the two 23+ story condominiums that are going to be in place on the other side of the street in the next  four years – by about the end of the term of this council.

During the debate Councillor Kearns read into the record requests for rainbow crosswalk(s), were delivered to her office by local high school students, residents, and in direct conversation with constituents. The purpose is to show visibility and awareness to the ever evolving 2SLGBTQ Rainbow Community.


“On September 6th, I attended as an Ally with over 1500 people at the Art Gallery Burlington for The Gender Conspiracy: An Open Letter to the Trans and Gender Diverse communities.  It was an evening of contributing artists & community partners who are supporting a dialogue addressing human rights advocacy. 


“The purpose of a rainbow crosswalk here, just like the one presented at the United Nations which has been painted in the rainbow colours associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or two spirited movement is a reminder to local and world leaders that the fight for equality continues. This is not a gesture of special rights, it is acknowledging the battles that this community has faced historically around the world. I respect that this is a private matter for many, but it is right to honour those who have fought for rights in society – Harvey Milk, Larry Kramer, Sven Robinson, and the LGB youth who have a 14 times higher risk of suicide than heterosexual counterparts. We have to believe that we are part of ending this legacy and that we believe inclusivity means celebrating people for their accomplishments and merit only. 


Kearns at Rainbow crossing

Councillor Kearns with the kind of side walk crossing lines she would like to see. The first might be in Aldershot.

“This has been a tough staff direction to bring forward. It is bold to open an emotional, objective, personal conversation in a very public forum. I personally have stretched my education, understanding and empathy to be certain that this work is meaningful. 


“I know that the optimal location would be in the downtown and I fully support that. But at this time  with the onset of construction, there are unintended consequences that will project negatively on this initiative. Councillor Galbraith has stepped up to propose a location on Plains Road on the other side of Wolf Island Bridge – an entrance to Burlington, this signals that individuals are entering a safe & inclusive city. 


“Our commitment to inclusivity as a City is strong, it brings us together, it does not divide us. 

“We know this by the symbolic raising of our Pride Flag in June, by having Halton Regional Police Service as a recognized leader for its award-winning efforts to reach out to the diverse communities it serves, and by Burlington’s Inclusivity Advisory Committee working towards Pride events for June 2020 with staff and citizens.


“Our commitment to inclusivity as a City is strong. We are making life more welcoming, to creative inclusive space, and to show that love is love.”

As the committee was getting ready to move on to the next item she advised her colleagues that Tuesday was National Suicide Day.

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9 comments to Rainbow street crossings on the way – maybe something really spectacular if Councillor Sharman has his way.

  • david barker

    Penny, you are so right. Yes, let’s get rid of traffic lights, stop signs, bicycle lane markings, crosswalk markings etc. They are all so confusing and distracting.

    You referenced that it had been mentioned on Twitter that these rainbow crossings are confusing and are a distraction. Penny, that was Twitter. I’m sure you do not believe 100% of what Trump tweets? So please fact check before making a post or say the comment has not been verified.

  • John McGhie

    Yes spend more money on something we DON’T need. Why change the crosswalk what we have is good enough, buying more materials we don’t need just to satisfy the few. I have been looking forward for good things in this Council BUT this is not what we need……John McGhie

  • David Fenton

    Kept singing (sort of) Bob Marleys ‘I’m a Rainbow too’…”Sun is shining, the weather is sweet
    Make you want to move your dancing feet”….etc.

  • Penny Hersh

    On Twitter it has been mentioned that these Rainbow Street Crossings are a distraction and cause problems. Green bicycle lanes are also in Burlington. Confusion on streets that already have to deal with distracted drivers, texting, talking on the phone and in some cases eating food. Waste of money. Political correctness at its worst.

    Want to make a difference – treat everyone with respect.

    • Jim Thomson

      You forgot the panhandlers. The mayor thinks drivers should be fined for giving them money when stopped at a light, cause that’s distracted driving.

      Personally I think it is a ridiculous idea but at least it’s cheap, crosswalks need repainted anyway. Its not spending $4.0 million to subsidise the hobby of rich boat owners.
      That’s real money that could have been put to better use.

      And really twitter as a source? After 3 years of Donald Trumps lies, who believes anything on twitter?

  • Jim Thomson

    Well at least it’s not that expensive. They need to be painted from time to time anyway. A bit of colour doesn’t impact the price very much.

  • Penny Hersh

    I have no problem with recognizing the LGBTQ community. The City should be cognizant that there are other issues that plague our city. One being anti-semitism, and other hate crimes against minorities. Is anything being done to recognize this in our community.

    This comment will probably be seen as “politically incorrect” but I felt it needed to be said.

  • david barker

    This comment is not aimed at Burlington specifically. It certainly may apply. But it definitely applied in Toronto all along King St and Yonge St. Why are four way all way crosswalks not used more often. They do a great job of segregating pedestrians and vehicles. The current set up of two way cross walks mixes pedestrians with vehicles turning right. This imperils the safety of the pedestrian and frustrates the vehicle’s driver who is unable to make either a right on green or on red. At least have the four way all way crossings at major intersections, such as Brant/Lakeshore and at intersections near schools here in Burlington; and at King/Yonge, Queen/Yonge, Bay/King, University/King, Bay/Queen.