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Calgary crosswalk painting rules need consistency, says community leader

She’d seen Calgary crosswalk painting before, so Bridgeland Riverside Community Association’s Ali McMillan was surprised to hear there might be trouble with turning an intersection into a new community canvas.

McMillan was hoping to support this Pride month by having a rainbow “crosswalk” painted where there’s no current crosswalk along at the intersection at McDougall Rd and 9 Street NE. She said it’s right at the start of a playground zone so it would be good to grab drivers’ attention to remind them to slow down.

“One of the biggest complaints we have in the neighbourhood is the safety of crossings and the lack of crossings that we have,” she said.

RELATED: Calgary’s first-ever permanent rainbow crosswalk set for Mount Royal University

McMillan pointed to similar projects in Seattle, Montreal, Kelowna and even Edmonton, where people have taken to the streets with paints in hand, to beautify the neighbourhood.

“They add a different vitality to the neighbourhood and can involve community members and add to the character of the community,” she said.

When McMillan approached the city about the potential of doing the project, she said she received a lot of “mixed messages” about whether they were able to do it.

At first, she was told it was a Traffic Safety Act issue and then that it was a municipal rule, she said. She said she’s seen other street and crosswalk painting in the city, so it wasn’t really adding up.

A sponsor is lined up to provide the paint, and a host of community members are ready to roll up their sleeves to colour up the roadways.

Crosswalk painting not allowed

The city said, however, that crosswalk painting isn’t permitted. Citizens are free to paint the intersections upon application to the paint the pavement program. There’s a 17-page guidebook (March 31, 2019) for the program that outlines where painting can occur.

The location is already under review for a marked crosswalk location, according to a city spokeswoman.

Crosswalk painting is allowed in other jurisdictions, the city said.

The city also noted that a formal application hasn’t yet been submitted by the Bridgeland Riverside Community Association, and that nothing to date has been officially rejected.

McMillan identified these two specific cases where the crosswalks were painted. GOOGLE MAPS SCREENSHOT

McMillan said the area councillor, Ward 9’s Gian Carlo Carra, is digging into it for them, but ultimately she’s looking for some clarity. Especially since she identified two crosswalks along 17 Avenue SW in the Mission / Cliff Bungalow area were painted and show up on Google Maps.

“I just don’t understand the inconsistency,” McMillan said.

“If there’s a rule that needs to be changed, it would be great to change it.”

McMillan said other communities have expressed an interest in doing it, and not just at low volume, obscure neighbourhood intersections.

“If we don’t have the funds to put white ladder crosswalks all over the place, why not allow the community to maintain it within some criteria,” she said.