New electronic sign idea doesn’t fly with council

Council wants to take another look at off-site advertising

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

This wasn’t nearly as interesting as the legendary ‘backyard chicken debate’ of 2016, but the result was exactly the same. One councillor absent, a rare tie vote and a decent idea down in flames.

In this case the proposal was to purchase four digital display units, to be put up in the lobbies of town facilities. Presented by town communications coordinator Christopher Brown, the scheme would have allowed the town to sell advertising, which it can’t do on its outdoor electronic signs. Brown said he’d been approached by a couple of businesses asking about that.

The idea was to mount the screens in the town office lobby, the MRC and the pool. They would display town programming information and there would be room for advertising. Brown’s proposal had four of the units being purchased and installed for the cost of $4,645. But some councillors were leery.

“I’m hesitant,” said councillor Darin Busk. “The amount of trouble we’ve had. Once they go down, those advertisers are going to be crawling all over you. Technology always lets us down.”

For mayor Tyler Warman, it raised other questions. Why can’t the town accept paid ads on its two outdoor electronic signs? And (having been reminded), why is off-site advertising not allowed?

“It’s really hard to find an off-site advertising (policy) that’s fair and that actually works,” said Laurie Skrynyk, the town’s planning and development manager. “It’s a pretty loaded thing to change.”

Skrynyk went on to explain the extensive process (including a focus group of business people) that had looked into the question in 2009. Their conclusion was to leave well enough alone, i.e. businesses can only advertise on their own property.

“I wouldn’t mind taking a look at it again in the future,” said Warman.

Councillor Brice Ferguson asked about the workload involved in programming four more electronic displays. Not much, said Brown.

Councillor Julie Brandle said she’d been opposed to the idea, but the presentation had brought her around. However, it wasn’t enough.

The vote split 3 – 3 and a tie is a defeat. Councillors Rebecca King, Shawn Gramlich and Busk were opposed. The deciding vote, in the form of councillor Joy McGregor, was absent.

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