Merchants in the uptown area will have to settle for city signage the way it is for now.
Port Alberni City Council voted 4-3 to maintain the city’s existing way-finding signage.
The issue arose after South Port merchant Jennie O’Connor submitted a letter to council in January asking for more signage directing people to South Port. O’Connor noted there is more traffic in North Port than south and she would like to see signage at the entrance to the city letting people know there is another shopping district.
“By putting signage up, at least we would be letting travellers know that there is more to Port Alberni than the Johnston Road strip,” O’Connor noted in her letter.
Council asked for a report from city planner Scott Smith about the issue at this meeting.
In his report, Smith said that the city implemented a strategic sign plan in 2007. The initiative cost $100,000 and produced 30 signs that are spread throughout the community.
Many of the signs read “City Centre”, or the name chosen for South Port to reflect it as the community’s centre. Several signs direct people to Harbour Quay as well.
Councillors Dan Washington, Cindy Solda, Rob Cole and Mayor John Douglas voted in favour of the motion. Coun. Wendy Lee Kerr, Jack McLeman and Hira Chopra voted against the motion.
Solda said if more signs are placed along road directing people south then what does that do to North Port? “Uptown-downtown, they both have the right to have signs,” she said.
The city will start down a slippery slope if signage is expanded, Washington said. “If South Port gets signs then North Port will want theirs,” he said.
Speaking against the motion, Coun. Hira Chopra said O’Connor’s concerns are valid. “Look at where the dollars are going – to Johnston Road,” he said. “What we’re putting about this side isn’t working.”
Also in favour, Mayor John Douglas said council is getting bogged down in details and losing sight of the big picture. “Our goal is the revitalization of South Port,” which Douglas said will be accomplished through other means. Afterward “We can keep an eye on details,” he said of signs.