Delta OKs highway sign despite 100 per cent opposition

It’s an innovative entrepreneurial opportunity for the city.

That’s how Coun. Dylan Kruger recently described Delta council’s endorsement of a staff recommendation to install a highway digital adverting sign. Still requiring provincial government approval, the lease deal would see a sign board installed at the city’s works yard on Nordel Way.

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“What I see here is an immense benefit for the city that should be taken very seriously. It is an opportunity for sustained funding for a 25-year period in the area of $450,000 that can go towards some sort of field maintenance or other parks and rec opportunities or opportunities to reinvest in the community.

“This is money that can go into our community that doesn’t have to involve Delta raising taxes, drawing on our tax base. I really believe in innovative entrepreneurial opportunities for cities to take advantage of to raise funds,” said Kruger.

A staff report notes that in addition to potential revenue from lease payments of approximately $450,000 per year, for a total of $14.4 million over a 25-year term, the proposed sign would also provide dedicated time to display community messaging, including, but not limited to, amber alerts, community events and notices.

The city recently held a public consultation on the proposal, which included newspaper and online advertisements seeking feedback as well as sending a letter to approximately 600 surrounding properties and residents.

The report notes a total of 54 responses were received with all respondents in opposition.

The majority focused on concerns over driver safety, including distracted driving.

Coun. Lois Jackson said she can’t believe the city would be moving ahead despite 100 per cent opposition.

Noting the response rate was extremely low, Kruger countered it’s important to make decisions backed by evidence.

The company hoping to enter a lease with Delta provided a technical memorandum produced for the City of Toronto that looked at the impact of static electronic signs along highways and that study found “no evidence of such signs having any impacts on road safety along highways in both daylight and dark conditions.”

The Delta staff report adds that over the past several years, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has approved several similar digital billboards in other municipalities, including Surrey, New Westminster and Abbotsford.

Community planning director Marcy Sangret noted that in addition to electronic reader boards in all three communities, the city also has digital sign boards on private property at Planet Ice and beside the former Delta Town & Country Inn site. 

The Nordel sign would show static images eight seconds in length with no videos.

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