Before an immediate and visceral rejection of a proposed change, the Capital Regional District planned on spending $137,000 on new Thetis Lake and two other regional park signs.
The CRD’s social media was flooded with negative responses in mid-January when it posted a rendering of what would replace the decades-old wooden display greeting Thetis Lake’s visitors – prompting the district to backtrack on those plans.
The 2022 regional parks budget included $137,000 for replacing entry signs, including the paused Thetis Lake change. That also funded a new sign that was installed at Elk/Beaver Lake Regional Park’s Beaver Beach entrance on Jan. 12 and a pillar-like sign at East Point Regional Park.
Directors at the Feb. 8 board meeting voted to proceed with implementing the CRD’s signage strategy with the exception of regional park entry signs, which will now be considered further by the regional parks committee.
“I’m hoping the regional parks committee will look at the value of the old wooden sign that currently welcomes people to (Thetis Lake) park and look if there’s a way to keep that sign and have a new sign,” CRD chair Colin Plant said in an interview.
He noted that even though the public strongly supports it, the log sign being made of wood means it will deteriorate even if it’s treated.
“We’ll see what we can do and people can come to the committee with their suggestions about what they would like to see,” Plant said.
The CRD’s updated parks strategy, which has received interim approval, calls for integrating First Nation stories, names and information on signage.
Asked why some new signs were already installed as those consultations with local First Nations are ongoing, Plant said there’s a need to ensure the displays are doing their job, while leaving space for them to be updated with Indigenous languages and names in the future.
“The sign’s design – even though some people may not like the design and would prefer the status quo – was done in a way that would allow us to recognize First Nations,” he said. “I think the CRD is very interested in exploring, with local Nations, the names for areas where we have regional parks and the idea of honouring the names is something that I think the board will want to do.”
The CRD’s 2021-approved signage guidelines state signs should be consistent to create a “recognizable brand,” while their design and materials “speaks to the integrity of the CRD identity.”
“The public expressed dislike of the new sign design, particularly for a park, and the public also expressed concern over the expenditures associated with the new signs and the strategy,” staff said at the Feb. 8 board meeting.
Director Sid Tobias said he saw his email explode after the social media posts went up.
“We can talk about corporate branding but I think there’s a place where it’s appropriate and where it’s not,” the View Royal mayor said.
While corporate-looking signs might be better placed outside a hospital, Tobias said the public has a personal attachment to local parks and they should have a say.
“We should be informed by the public, by the history and wait until we’ve done the First Nations engagement to find out what that might look like.”
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