Why are those rainbow crosswalks so much more expensive than the standard crossings?

The answer lies in the material needed to create the symbols of inclusivity

There have been letters to the editor, calls to the KTW newsroom and plenty of posts online with respect to the proposed rainbow crosswalk downtown.

Virtually all of the above focus on the city’s estimated cost to apply the multi-coloured crosswalk — $10,000.

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The city is considering the installation at the request of Kamloops Pride.

Airport crosswalk
Taking the inaugural walk in April 2018 across one of two rainbow crosswalks at Kamloops Airport were, from left, Kirstin McLaughlin and Sam Numsen of Kamloops Pride then-Kamloops 
councillor Tina Lange, then-Kamloops Airport managing director Heather McCarley, airport 
administrative co-ordinator Sherry Senum and 
airport operations 
manager Jeff Scherban. 
The crosswalks are painted in the colours of the 
rainbow, which is the symbol of support for the LGBTQ community. - Dave Eagles/KTW file

A rainbow crosswalk is intended to demonstrate the city’s commitment to inclusivity for all its residents.

Kamloops Pride had hoped to have the crosswalk installed in time for its downtown parade in late August. The city is working with the group on a possible temporary rainbow crossing that could be ready in time for the Aug. 25 event.

The city’s preliminary $10,000 cost estimate includes highly durable material known as methyl methcrylate (MMA) road-marking paint.

According to the province’s Ministry of Transportation, MMA road-marking paint is typically 10 to 15 times the cost of standard paint per metre to apply.

A report with a more specific cost breakdown will go to council later, but city CAO David Trawin explained the majority of the cost is due to the material.

“It’s a specialized material and the difference is it’s going to last four or five years, versus a paint that’s going to have to be put on, depending which intersection it is, two, three times a year,” he said.

The city paints standard crosswalks at least once per year with water-based paint, at a cost of $420 each time, including staff labour.

Crews paint some intersections up to three times per year.

Trawin explained that environmental regulations prevent the city from using oil-based paints.

In higher traffic areas, the city uses thermoplastic paint, which is more durable, but comes at a higher cost.

MMA is even more durable.

Trawin said a higher durability paint would be preferable given the city’s experience with other coloured crosswalks.

Red crosswalks were previously painted on Tranquille Road, but without constant maintenance, the North Shore Business Improvement Association apparently indicated to the city it no longer wanted them painted red.

The red crosswalks on Tranquille have since been covered with white paint.

Trawin said paying more up front will result in better quality and less maintenance later.

Ongoing maintenance costs of a rainbow crosswalk are expected to be between $5,000 to $10,000 every four or five years, depending on the location’s traffic levels.

Council has directed staff to return with a report detailing cost and location for a rainbow crosswalk downtown.

Four rainbow crosswalks are located on private property throughout the city — two at Kamloops Airport, one at Thompson Rivers University and one at Lansdowne Village downtown.


From the B.C. Ministry of Transportation:

“Changes in environmental regulations have meant a move away from more resilient acrylic paints we used in the past, to waterborne latex paints that are less harmful to the environment.

These paints are less durable than previous paints and we are working with paint manufacturers on solutions to the issue.

Different sections of the province have different issues to deal with in regards to line marking visibility and durability.

Therefore, no single paint or application will work for everything and the cost per kilometre is difficult to determine as this cost can vary greatly depending on where the paint is being applied.

Durable markings are typically 10 to 15 times the cost of standard paint per metre to install, include MMA (Methyl Methacrylate).”

From the Langley Times, Sept. 14, 2016:

“Staff recommends that all four pedestrian crossings at this intersection are marked in a similar manner to ‘minimize confusion for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,’ and there would be ongoing maintenance costs of around $50,000 every three to five years to maintain the rainbow feature.

“Should they chose to install the crosswalk at a different intersection, such as Glover Road near Mary Avenue, the cost would be $12,000. A regular crosswalk, by contrast, typically costs $5,000.”

From the Surrey Now-Leader, March 11, 2019:

City staff estimates that painting a rainbow in a Delta crosswalk to ‘“proactively support diversity and inclusion” of the LGBTQ community would cost $6,500.

From the Tri-City News, Nov. 30, 2017:

“A staff report presented to Port Moody council recommended the Murray Street location as the most suitable for the crosswalk, based on factors like its visibility, traffic volume to reduce wear and tear, and the possibility of co-ordinating its installation with other planned work to help minimize costs.

“The report said it would cost about $11,000 to prepare the roadway there and paint the crosswalk.”

© Kamloops This Week


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