It’s still zebra-stripe for now, but the Village of Queen Charlotte might paint the Causeway Street crosswalk in rainbow colours for a future Pride.
Mayor Greg Martin said council voted to stick with regular white paint this year because it cost $700 while a rainbow crosswalk would have been $4,500 — both quotes were for highway paints that are likely to fade in less than a year.
“I was shocked it would cost $700 for something that would wash off in less than a year,” Martin said, speaking at the May 22 council meeting.
“And I was several times more shocked that we could spend $4,500 to have it wash off in less than a year.”
Ben Greenough, superintendent of public works, explained that since 2010 B.C. has banned oil-based highway paints in favour of less polluting alkyd or water-based ones that tend to fade much faster.
Greenough said the village’s most durable option for the crosswalk is to grind down the asphalt under each of the painted panels and pour in a specialized thermoplastic paint.
Used for the yellow line markings on Oceanview Drive near the high school, such paint lasts for years, but comes with an even higher upfront cost.
Since the 2010 switch, B.C.’s transportation ministry has heard consistent complaints about fading highway lines. In 2012 the Observer ran a front-page photo of a badly faded stretch with the caption, “Where are the lines? Not here.”
Last year, B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation tested 18 new, more durable highway paints and settled on a thicker “high-build” one for Highway 16. But crews have since had trouble applying it, and reverted to double coats of the paint they used before.
When the province signs a new round of five-year highway painting contracts in December, it will require companies to repaint more often, use thicker coats, use paints with larger and more reflective glass beads, and paint second coats in areas that fade early.