Members of the Vauxhall Ag Society appeared as a delegation at council’s May 5 regular meeting. In attendance were Jason Tolsma, Harry Brummelhuis, and Brian Schnarr, secretary-treasurer.
The purpose of the delegation was to seek a resolution to the society’s request that the town purchase a new digital sign for the highway. The current sign could then be moved into town, possibly near the community complex or the new public library.
There is some provincial funding available for the project, but the previous council had been dragging their heels on making a decision, something Schnarr said has caused issues between the society and the province.
The society eventually sent the funding back to the government, which promptly sent it back.
“They sent the money back to us and said we could use the money for an additional sign,” Schnarr said. “It was supposed to have been purchased in the fall. That hasn’t happened.”
Schnarr said the ag society was willing to add $20,000 toward the purchase of a new sign, bringing the total available funds up to $46,000. The ag society would like to see a new, bigger sign put out on the highway, with the current highway sign brought into town for use by local residents.
“Either in front of the library or put it on the arena complex,” he said.
The society now needs a decision by council soon, or they will be forced to once more return the grant money.
“It would be a shame to send that money back to the government once we already have it,” he said.
During discussion, Schnarr spoke about how ineffective the highway sign is for motorists.
“That sign out there is completely useless,” he said. “Everyone complains about it. Driving down the highway, you can’t read it.”
Tolsma said the only way to effectively read the sign is to block traffic and park in front of it. He said that has caused some issues with residents parking in an area where semi trucks are turning.
“Those semis need that whole corner,” he said.
Schnarr said the sign was originally placed on the highway to attract business, but as it is now difficult to read, it has lost its effectiveness.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was a waste of money,” he said.
A new, larger sign could use larger text, and possibly be brighter to attract attention, according to Schnarr, who felt such improvements would go a long way toward how effective the sign was for highway traffic.
Coun. Richard Phillips said he felt the issue was that the sign was too slow to be useful to highway traffic.
“The print size is fine, the brightness is fine, but what’s not fine is it comes up one line at a time,” he said. “It’s ridiculous for that location to have this slow, slow sign.”
Schnarr said he would like to know in the next 30 days whether council wanted to move forward with a new sign or not, and that he needed to inform the province about their decision in order to get an extension or not.
“They want us to finalize it,’ he said. “If they’re going to go ahead and do it, we can probably get an extension as long as that happens. But if (council) decides they aren’t going to do it, we’ll send the money back.”
Brummelhuis said the sign could be effectively used at the arena, for example, to let people know about upcoming events in the community.
“Maybe there’s a good hockey game going on,” he said. “But the people don’t know about it.”
During further discussion later in the meeting, Phillips said he thought spending a large amount of money on a new sign was not a good use of the town’s funds.
“It’s big money and there’s so many other things around here that, to me, (need funding),” he said. “To me, that sign doesn’t make my life one bit better.”
“To me, it wouldn’t be a good use of the town’s dollars if we invest it in a bigger, better, and brighter sign,” he added.
“Just because the money is easy to get doesn’t mean it’s money well spent.”
Coun. Martin Kondor said it might be worthwhile because the Ag society does a lot for the town and money spent on the sign might be re-couped through grants and donations for other projects.
“The ag society wants (that sign), and they donate a lot,” he said.
“If we keep them happy, and spend some money on those signs, they work with us to get grants to fix whatever we need in town, it’s probably going to prosper us more in the end than it will cost us.”
Following discussion, council decided to table a decision to a later date and give administration some more time to find out the costs involved in purchasing a new sign.