Just a few months after A&W’s new flashing digital sign divided Invermere council members, another such sign has again prompted disagreement amongst councillors, although like the A&W sign in Athalmer, the planned new sign ultimately got council’s stamp of approval during the most recent meeting.
Unlike the A&W sign, however, the new proposed sign will not advertise a commercial business, but rather is being set up the by the local Rotary Club, with help from AG Valley Foods, as a community information board, letting people know about the various events and goings-on in the community. Another major difference from the A&W sign is that the Rotary Club will be located not down in Athalmer, but on Invermere’s main street (7th Avenue), taking up one of four panels on the free standing sign outside AG Foods.
“The idea is once it is constructed, they will turn it over the District of Invermere to operate,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft, speaking after the meeting. “AG has promised it won’t be used for advertising, just for community messages.”
A request for a bylaw variance allowing the sign was put forward to Invermere council during its Monday, April 24th meeting, and during discussion on the matter, most councillors voiced approval of the move, but councillor Paul Denchuk spoke against it.
Invermere bylaws prohibit flashing neon, digitally animated signs within the district, a measure meant to help the community retain a “mountain town” feel — a position cited by Denchuk during the vote on the A&W sign three months ago (the A&W sign was approved by a council by a 3-2 vote, with Denchuck and Taft voting against it). At the time Denchuk had said that once one digital sign goes up in town, other business will want their own animated signs, adding that it end up “looking like a Vegas strip” in Athalmer.
“This (the proposed new animated community message board) certainly has nothing to do with Rotary Club, which is a great group and does a lot for Invermere. It has to do with what is appropriate signage on our main street. I was opposed to the sign in Athalmer, so you can imagine how I feel about having one right downtown,” Denchuk told the Echo. “Nobody at the (council) meeting was really excited about the sign, but there seemed to be a fear in the room of saying no to Rotary Club. A digital sign – it’s not who we are as a town. As you pull into Invermere, one of the first intersections you come to is the one outside AG Foods, and this will sign will be in your face.
“If it was AG Food wanting to advertise lettuce with an animated sign, you’d said ‘no’. But because it’s Rotary Club, you say ‘yes’. I just don’t think it’s appropriate. I have a definite vision for the town, so this is hard to take. I think the floodgates are open now, and we’ll see more of this.”
The district will be seeking opinion on the propose sign from nearby business and residents.