Kentville Town Council says the digital advertising sign will go back up someday so long as repair and refitting costs don’t double from the original price tag.
Mayor Sandra Snow says council accepted Parks and Recreation Director Rachel Bedingfield’s recommendation to select Burgher Hill as the sign’s new location on March 11, but that decision is contingent upon final cost numbers.
Snow says the manufacturer has quoted the town a rough estimate of $14,000 to update the sign’s software and repair damage it sustained when it was removed and later put in storage.
“It’s like if a laptop were left in a shed – basically it has to be revived from long-term cold storage. The sign is 2015 technology, so if you consider its age and software upgrades – this is what we don’t know yet, and that number could certainly change,” says Snow.
The sign was purchased for $43,000 in April 2016 and later removed Feb. 7, 2018 after complaints that its Veterans Lane location was disrespectful to the town’s cenotaph.
A recommendation was put to council on May 30, 2018 that the sign be moved to Burgher Hill at a cost of nearly $18,000. Council rejected this recommendation and asked staff to suggest alternate relocation sites in Kentville’s western zone.
Snow says council was prompted to revisit discussions on reinstalling the sign after continued inquiries from area sports organizations, including the Kentville Senior Wildcats. The baseball organization uses it to highlight upcoming games and events.
“Without this sign, they don’t have that in-your-face signage. And there are certainly other means of getting the information out – social media, papers, radio – but if you miss it, you see it on this large sign as you head into the town,” says Snow.
Wildcats director Margaret VanBlarcom sent the town a letter on behalf of the organization inquiring about the sign on Feb. 6. She says the sign is crucial to the Wildcats’ advertising strategy because it’s a surefire way of reaching a large number of people on a strict financial budget.
“My job is to make sure we have ticket-takers, and we get people out to our games, so we’re hoping we can use it again because it’s really quite excellent for advertising,” she says.
If the final cost is acceptable to council, Snow says the town will have to amend its current land-use bylaws to allow the sign to operate and will include it within the Parks and Recreation section of its upcoming budget.
Town staff have started surveying the site’s west side to determine where the sign will best fit without hindering recreational activities at the hill, and Snow says approved construction could start any time after the weather warms.
“You have to weigh cost to benefit, so our decision is we’re going with it unless the cost were to double,” says Snow. “We didn’t place a number, but we did say we might reassess.”