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Potential fix in the works for Calgary’s broken community signs

Plans are in the works to catalog Calgary’s many community signs to find out where they are, which ones need repair and who’s responsible for the cost to fix them.

The matter comes as a proposed Notice of Motion from Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian to the June 1 Executive Committee meeting. If approved, it would then move on to a full meeting of Calgary city council.

The motion suggests locating community signs and documenting their features and who’s responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of those community signs. It also suggests a plan for determining those that require repair, what the cost would be and a proposal to address deteriorating signs moving forward.

Residents in Coventry Hills have seen their community signs start to degrade in quality. Former member of the Northern Hills Community Association (the community association representing residents of Coventry Hills) Tara Melhus said half the signs are on homeowner property and the other half are on city property. That makes the responsibility for their repair a tricky situation.

“It was this weird divide of signs that the city or community association would consider repairing and signs that they (the city) wouldn’t touch because it was actually the homeowners so it was this weird, it’s very gray from that perspective,” Melhus said.

The community signs that are on homeowners’ property have also led to strange situations.

“I heard that in our neighborhood in Coventry Hills that the (community) sign used to light up, but the power source for the lights on that sign are connected to the property behind it,” Melhus said.

“That homeowner is paying for that electricity to light up a community sign, so there are all these kinds of funny little things that we were kind of discovering.”

After multiple failed attempts at getting the community signs repaired Melhus realized that this was going to be an impossible task for members of the community. This led her to reach out to Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian.

Sign fix plan is needed

After hearing about the dilapidated signs Mian agreed that action needed to be taken sooner rather than later.

“We do need to start looking into that because this problem is something that has been happening city-wide and nothing is really being done about it in a concerted way, and I think it makes our city look bad,” Mian said.

“I’d like us to put a little bit of effort into making sure that not only do we fix the problem for what it looks like now, but also when we’re building new signs, we’re doing it with this understanding of how we are maintaining these signs in the long term and making sure that there is some type of mechanism to do that.”

One of the high-profile signs that continues to literally take a hit, is the Bridgeland community sign. Letters have been knocked off the ground-level sign after being hit by drivers sliding onto the boulevard.

The notice of motion states that the sign upkeep and responsibility is often divided among different groups “many of whom do not have the financial means to repair them,” the motion reads.

The plan is to have administration look at what rules around community sign maintenance and identify gaps to handle vandalism and disrepair in the future. It would also look at the process for community sign approval in the planning process.

If it’s approved at future council meeting, administration would report back to the Community Development Committee by Q2 in 2024.