Residents may have already noticed a new addition to South Shore Road, just outside of the Field’s Store. The new directory sign was finished last Friday (Jan. 16), though it’s 12 plates still remain empty. Despite the fact that we’re still months away from the annual flood of visitors in the summer, the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fernandez explained that the sign can serve the community all year-round.
“Downtown beautification was one of the ideas [behind the sign],” Fernandez said. “Signage is an issue a lot of communities are tackling. Visitors want to know where to go, they want to know where to find the arena, the bank, the lake.”
The idea of a new sign came up several months ago, as town council was discussing new sign regulation bylaws, which mostly concerned signs on or in front of commercial buildings.
“The sign was initiated by by the advisory planning commission,” Fernandez said. “Council was dealing with signage bylaws, so it made sense to take the opportunity to look at civic signage.”
The 12 plates on the new sign will be rented out to local businesses, and the Town of Lake Cowichan is currently looking into renting them out in five-year periods. Should a business close during that five-year period, the plate would be taken down, without reimbursement.
“[The plates] should be up as soon as we can convince people to get their names up there,” Fernandez said. “There was a lot of interest in the sign initially, but since we’ve put the sign up, nobody has phoned and asked me.”
A certain number of plates on the sign will be set aside for civic buildings, such as the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, “depending on the level of interest” from private businesses, according to Fernandez.
As the recently lifted boil water advisory remains a hot topic in Lake Cowichan, there has been discussion within town council of how the town can get the word out quicker in any similar scenarios in the future. One idea that came up was to post advisories to town signage.
Fernandez said that should another boil water advisory or watering restriction be issued to Lake Cowichan, it would appear at the entrance to town or the town hall, rather than be posted on the new sign.
The Town of Lake Cowichan budgeted just under $16,000 for the new sign.
The town is also planning on installing three more signs, and is currently looking at different options for location. Tentative locations include outside the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, outside of town hall and near the “cougar sign” on South Shore Road.
While the first sign is larger, and designed to be read from a vehicle, the other three will be smaller and designed to be read by pedestrians, which means they will also be cheaper for the town.
Councillor Bob Day suggested the town should have a separate rate for small, independent businesses, in order to give them more exposure.
“[Separate rates] are something we’ll be looking at,” Fernandez said. “We’re still looking at different options.”
For more information or to purchase a plate, call the Town of Lake Cowichan at 250-749-6681.