The signs they are a-changin’


Joe Melanson President of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce Area of signs leading into town to be redone with standardized signs

Joe Melanson
President of the Hay River Chamber of Commerce
Area of signs leading into town to be redone with standardized signs

The line of signs welcoming motorists to Hay River is about to get an extreme makeover.

The signs – just north of the intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 5 – have been targeted by the Hay River Chamber of Commerce as an unappealing introduction to the community.

“It’s a scrambled mess,” said Joe Melanson, the chamber president. “It’s an eyesore coming into Hay River.”

A chamber project – expected to be completed this month – will erect 25 uniform frames to display the seven signs already there and 18 new ones.

All the available advertising spaces were taken within a matter of days.

Melanson said the project is designed to help beautify Hay River, and to promote the community as a great place to visit, shop and enjoy outdoor activities.

Right now, he said the signs are sending a negative message.

“There are a few good signs out there,” he said. “I love that Read to Succeed. That’s a great sign. We plan on leaving that sign, but we’ll put it on our new frame.”

Before the chamber could rearrange the signs, there was a lot of preparation.

“We had to get consent from the businesses that are out there now to remove their signs,” Melanson said, who added that is part of an agreement with the Department of Transportation under which the frames are being erected.

All the owners of the existing signs agreed to relocate them to the uniform frames.

That includes Fraser Pike, the owner of 2 Seasons Adventures, who fully supports the changes being planned by the chamber as a way to make the signs more appealing.

“I think the way it looks now is a total eyesore,” said Pike, noting the signs are unevenly placed along the highway, some are closer to the road than others, some almost appear to be falling over, and not all the information is current.

In fact, he believes the chamber’s plan to make the signs uniform and neat will help people notice them more, and will be a better investment for businesses.

“I think we might get more value for it,” he said.

Melanson said the chamber thought there might be a bit of an issue with the businesses currently with signs on that section of highway, but everyone supported the project.

“But there will be none of those old signs left the way they are,” he said. “They’ll be all uniform and in a line.”

Melanson said the only existing signs that won’t be moved to the new frames are two highway signs owned by the Department of Transportation.

The frames will be about 25 metres apart on the 700-metre stretch of highway.

“We know people are doing up to 90 km per hour, so we wanted it visible,” said Melanson, adding that the frames will be about eight feet high and four feet wide.

The chamber is investing about $7,000 into the project.

“We’ll get our members to go and volunteer some time on the weekends once these are done in the next couple of weeks,” said Melanson of erecting the frames. “I hope to see this happen in September.”

The frames will be rented out for $1 a day.

“A dollar a day, you can’t beat that,” said Melanson. “And it also gives us a revenue line coming in year after year.”

As part of the agreement with the existing sign owners, they will also have their business names and logos added to the large Welcome to Hay River sign at Chamber Park. Plus, their signs on the highway will be installed for free for a year, although they would have to pay for any new sign.

“After that, they’re like everybody else,” said Melanson. “They’ll pay their dollar a day.”

A business can get new signs made at Poison Painting, which has the Department of Transportation specifications.

Melanson said there is also discussion about erecting more frames for signs southward from the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 2, but that won’t happen until next year.

-Paul Bickford