At their July 26 General Committee meeting, councillors were told that staff have had difficulty securing a quote for the rainbow crosswalk approved by council on Huntsville’s Main Street.
At their May meeting, council directed staff to consult with the District of Muskoka, as Huntsville’s Main Street is a District road, as well as with Muskoka Pride and come up with an estimate for the sidewalk.
Tarmo Ukkivvi, Huntsville Director of Operations and Protective Services, told the committee that the District had indicated that they would work with the Town and Muskoka Pride was in support of the project but expressed concern about vandalism and noted they would not be participating in the funding of the crosswalk.
Uukkivi also told the committee coming up with costing for the sidewalk presented a challenge. “We approached a couple of companies that we use typically for line painting in town for contracts and the two companies we approached refused to provide even general quotes on the work,” he said, adding that that left staff trying to figure out how they could come up with a general cost for the sidewalk.
Uukkivi noted that in 2022 council requested that staff look into a rainbow crosswalk between Huntsville High School and the Canada Summit Centre and at that time staff was able to obtain a $50,000 quote from the company that was on a contract with the Town. He said the company at the time indicated that they only stocked yellow road paint and they would have to buy the additional colours in bulk.
Fast forward to the July 27 meeting and Uukkivi gave councillors an estimate of $81,000 for a rainbow-coloured crosswalk.
“The value of $81,000 is based, without any quotes this year, [on]our experience with our contracted line painting for the rest of the town.” Uukkivi said the cost has gone up by 62 per cent. “So we simply took the $50,000 quote from last year and added 62 per cent to come up with what’s being presented,”he said of the $81,000 estimate for the sidewalk. He said that price would reflect MTO grade paint. On top of that, there will be ongoing maintenance, possible repairs and touch-up costs.
Uukkivi said the cost could be brought down by using a different type of paint, hiring a local artist or even changing the location of the crosswalk where a lower grade paint could be used if there is less traffic.
Councillor Scott Morrison noted that other municipalities had put rainbow crosswalks in for a much cheaper price. For example, he said, Port Colborne had put one in for $15,000 in 2021 and it cost the City of Barrie $10 or 15,000.
“It’s hard when we only have companies that don’t actually supply the paint. And also we’re looking at maybe a bigger plan and Councillor [Helena] Renwick and I have had some discussions. We have some ideas around something that can be more substantial and more inclusive.”
Morrison suggested that he and Councillor Renwick could do some work on the file and return to council with their findings.
Committee also heard that opportunities will be sought to try and ensure the cost of the initiative is not put on the tax base.
Renwick said it started as a Pride crosswalk but the idea has developed into something even greater – a unity square, which could incorporate Indigenous peoples and maybe Veterans as well and speak to the municipality’s diversity and inclusivity.
Both Renwick and Morrison said they could not support spending $81,000 on a crosswalk.
They are expected to return to council with their findings in September.
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