Sign to replace old sign by Sobey’s and will not be digital

By Steve Hubrecht

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The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce will soon have a new sign in Athalmer, promoting local events and businesses.

The sign will replace the one that used to stand next to Sobey’s, visible to drivers and pedestrians as they came up the hill from Athalmer to the four-way traffic lights. That sign had fallen into a state of disrepair and had to be removed in 2017. The spot, however, is no longer suitable for a sign because the right of way area near Sobey’s is now restricted by plans for a roundabout to replace the four-way lights. The roundabout will entail re-alignment of 7th Avenue, meaning a new location for the chamber’s sign is required.

Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik outlined that finding a new spot has been on the Chamber and district of Invermere’s radar ever since.

The solution appears at hand, as Invermere council agreed during its Tuesday, June 8 meeting to sign an encroachment agreement allowing the chamber a spot where the old Strands restaurant sign was in Athalmer, on the north side of Laurier Street, right across from the Petro Can gas station and car wash.

“This is a District of Invermere right of way that has high visibility similar to the Sobey’s location, has a history of sign placement, and no immediate development plans in place,” wrote Hromadnik in a summary to council.

Hromadnik explained that the sign is a modest revenue generator for the chamber, bringing in perhaps $25,000 a year, but that maintenance and design costs associated with the sign probably eat up most of, if not all of, that revenue for the chamber, and that the chamber uses the sign not so much as moneymaker as much as a means to promote events and its member businesses.

“It’s about visibility and exposure,” he said, adding the chamber would be responsible for maintaining and designing the sign to the district of Invermere standards.

“It seems to make sense,” said Invermere mayor Al Miller.

Invermere councillor Gerry Taft, recalling the extensive and sometimes acrimonious discussions from 2017 surrounding digital signs in the district, asked if the sign was going to be an old-fashioned, hand-changed lettered sign or an illuminated digital sign.

Hromadnik responded it was not going to be a digital sign, and may not even have any lighting of any sort. Taft visibly relaxed his shoulders upon hearing this.

“It seems like a good solution, and a good spot,” said councillor Kayja Becker.

Council members unanimously agreed to let the chamber use the spot for its sign.