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Shelburne Letters Signage Pushed Off For Time Being


“As far as Jack Downing Park goes, I don’t care if it was free to put these letters in that park,” emphasized Councillor Lynda Buffett. “I totally disagree with doing that.”

On June 14, 2021, Shelburne Council received a staff report on Shelburne letters signage for Jack Downing Park. The document provided samples of signage from different cities around Ontario that are pursuing or have pursued similar projects, such as Barrie and Collingwood. Furthermore, proposed locations of the letters within the park, along with variations in size, were included. Staff had drawings modelling illuminated letters, spelling out ‘Shelburne,’ three to five feet in size, instead of going with letters up to ten feet in height, as per the original motion. Staff estimate costs to range from $35,000 to $85,000.

Staff recommended the review of the Shelburne letters signage to be referred to the parks and recreation master plan to determine costs and a more suitable location. Jack Downing Park was not seen to be appropriate given the other features being added. Once placement and expenses for the letters were determined, the initiative would be up for potential consideration in the 2022 draft budget. Councillor Kyle Fegan’s motion to have the letters removed from further consideration was due to be read later on. 

Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson spoke in support of the signage. Anderson stated that going with a concept similar to Collingwood’s CWOOD sign, made of wood while still illuminated, would be significantly cheaper than the approximately $700,000 price tag Toronto realized. The staff report showed that Collingwood paid around $2,500 for its sign. However, this was before the price increases in lumber were experienced as a consequence of the pandemic. The deputy mayor told how he saw Collingwood’s sign, and it looks ‘fantastic.’ Anderson also noted that the staff report shows that many municipalities are going forward with similar signage projects.

“Now some of them obviously with bigger dollar signs than we could ever dream of,” delineated Anderson. “But they clearly see the value in having something like this in their town and what it means.”

Councillor Fegan rebutted against the deputy mayor’s opinion of Collingwood’s sign.

“No offence Deputy Mayor Anderson, but the Collingwood sign, I don’t like at all.” declared Councillor Fegan. “It is not something I find attractive whatsoever.”

Councillor Fegan figured that the longevity of the wooden sign would likely be five years or less, disapproving of the associated replacement and maintenance costs. 

Next, Councillor Fegan reminded his colleagues that the Heritage Committee had several initiatives at the park they were planning to implement this year. There were concerns that the letters would reduce the visibility for these designs, including a mural, in addition to the pavilion structure. 

Councillor Fegan’s last argument was against the notion that the sign would draw tourists. He pronounced that similar signs are currently installed in cities with existing visitor attractions already bringing guests there. 

“The idea that if we build a sign that’s going to bring people to town, just to take a picture with it,” remarked Councillor Fegan. “I’m sorry, that makes no sense whatsoever.”

Councillor Walter Benotto disputed his fellow councillor’s contentions with the letters being at Jack Downing Park. He reiterated that the monument was intended to draw people downtown. Benotto also addressed how fundraising could be performed to cover the costs of the signage. Furthermore, he wasn’t convinced that the letters would obstruct onlookers from seeing the mural or pavilion structure.

“If they’re going to cover a mural, then damn it, that must be damn low to the ground,” answered Councillor Benotto intensely. “If they’re going to cover a gazebo, it must be a hell of a small gazebo.”

Councillor Benotto then indicated that he wished to see more permanent signage than what Collingwood possesses. The councillor said he would approve of three-foot-high lettering instead of five.

“I don’t mind waiting, but I’d like to put something in there,” insisted Councillor Benotto. “It has to be a sign that speaks about our town.”

Councillor Lynda Buffett agreed with the point that Councillor Fegan communicated regarding Jack Downing Park becoming overcrowded with features. 

“That’s going to be a very attractive park all by itself without any letters going anywhere,” asserted Councillor Buffett. “This will just clutter that up.” 

Councillor Buffett spelled out how if the town were to install letter signage, it should be elsewhere. She suggested the town’s entrance to be seen when people are driving in. The councillor illustrated why she disagreed with the reasoning of the location of the letters being Jack Downing Park. 

“To say, ‘Oh, we need that so we can tell people where Shelburne is,’ they know where Shelburne is because when they come into the entrance, that’s when they find out that they’re in Shelburne,” outlined Councillor Buffett. “Then they get downtown, and they don’t have to find a sign because they’re stuck in traffic, looking at it, because they can’t move.”

It was a close vote. Deputy Mayor Steve Anderson, Councillor Walter Benotto and Councillor Lindsay Wegener voted in favour of further assessment of the Shelburne letters’ signage being referred to the parks and recreation master plan. Councillors Kyle Fegan, Lynda Buffett, and Shane Hall voted in opposition. The mayor went last, breaking the tie, voting in support. 

“Let it live for another day to see if there’s another place for it,” said Mayor Wade Mills.

References – Shelburne Letters Signage Pushed Off For Time Being

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