The signs, they are a changin’ ... to the tune of $450,000.
During this week’s budget deliberations, city councillors agreed to invest $350,000 in two large new digital ‘gateway’ signs on Highway 11 and another $100,000 for five ‘secondary’ signs at various entry points to the city.
According to a report tabled during the budget talks, Orillia is “one of the few municipalities along the Highway 11 corridor to not have a gateway sign.”
The report says gateway signs will help increase the city’s “place recognition” and create a “sense of arrival for residents and welcomes visitors to the city.”
One large “gateway” sign will be placed at the southern edge of Orillia and one on the northern edge.
These signs will feature the city logo prominently “to increase brand awareness” and will include a digital display for messaging and promotion to motorists.
The costs of those signs is $200,000. Installation-related costs are pegged at $140,000, with an additional contingency of $10,000, bringing the total price tag of the two signs to $350,000.
Staff successfully made the case to add the digital element earlier this year.
“Incorporating digital displays into the Highway 11 gateway signs is in keeping with current signage trends and presents Orillia with a unique opportunity to be the first municipality along the Highway 11 corridor to have digital displays as part of its gateway signs,” the report notes.
City councillors also gave the green light to five ‘secondary entrance’ signs - including two with a digital element. That digital element is why the $100,000 was approved; the original cost of the signs (without the digital component) was $150,000 and was earmarked during last year’s budget.
The extra $100,000 will enable staff to “source, manufacture and install” the two digital display signs.
The digital signs will both be placed on Highway 12 - at Atherley Road and at Monarch Road.
Non-digital signs will be placed at three entry points: Memorial Avenue (at Georgian College), Laclie Street (at Sundial) and Old Barrie Road (at Line 15.)
Staff noted the need for comprehensive wayfinding signage, including entrance signage to the city, had been identified by several studies over the years.
In 2019, the city hired Habit Inc. to provide a tender-ready package for the five secondary entrance signs. As part of Habit’s “discovery process” they recommended to “maximize Orillia’s secondary entrances by installing a hybrid of two digital display and three non-digital display” signs.
Decisions made during budget deliberations are subject to ratification at a special meeting of council Monday.