New Sidney welcome sign could soon see the light of day

Denis Paquette may see his decade-long vision for a grand directional sign come to fruition yet.

Denis Paquette may see his decade-long vision for a grand directional sign come to fruition yet.

The owner of the Sidney Waterfront Inn has been trying to see changes in the welcome and directional signage in the Town of Sidney — especially at the Town’s international ferry terminal — for years. He had even taken it upon himself to at one time revise existing signs, in an attempt to direct visitors into Sidney proper, instead of bypassing the community.

On Monday night, his dream for a sign that better directs visitors into the community moved a big step closer to reality.

Yet even Paquette would admit that his goal for a wayfinding sign at the Anacortes Ferry terminal could have gone by the wayside again.

Sidney town council had considered dropping the project from its budget this year and re-allocating $15,000 in its economic development fund to a new plan to build a pedestrian shelter in park space next to the terminal.

Paquette made a last-minute plea to speak with council Monday night at their committee meeting. He admitted that the group he was working with on designs had dragged its feet on an updated model that was less expensive than their first option from a few months ago.

However, their latest design was less expensive — yet Paquette said it, at between $25,000 and $27,000 — is still expected to exceed the Town’s budget of $15,000.

“It’s achievable,” he said.

Mayor Steve Price suggested that the price tag would be too high and that Town staff should search for other sources of money within the budget to pay for the sign.

Councillor Peter Wainwright, however, said he was not comfortable with using economic development money for a shelter which has almost no relationship to that portfolio.

“I feel a shelter is not an economic development function,” he said, suggesting that staff look to the budget surplus fund to cover the cost of the shelter.

Wainwright added he was okay with using the $15,000 already earmarked for the sign for its intended purpose.

While it was noted the proposed sign was more expensive than planned, councillors felt both the municipality and perhaps the business community could step up to pay the balance.

“We need to have a proper sign up there,” said Coun. Barbara Fallot. “I’d rather find the money for it, than for the shelter.”

Price asked if the sign’s price range was firm and Paquette assured him it was.

Council voted to keep the money allocated to the sign  — and start work on it this year — and come up with an estimated $12,000 out of surplus of contingency funds.

The shelter, too, is expected to be completed this year as part of park and sidewalk upgrades along First Street.