County making $200,000 'statement' with signs

County making $200,000 ‘statement’ with signs

Grey County will spend nearly $200,000 on a stone-clad sign in front of the administrative centre, plus smaller but similar signs at each of its three long-term care homes.

Though several county councillors balked at the price, which was nearly double the initial estimate, the majority voted in favour, acknowledging desired changes necessarily hiked the cost.

Handsome but costly local ledgerock will clad what could have been simply a bare concrete wall. It grew in size by a third to keep the correct proportions of county’s new logo, the words “Grey County” and to allow room to put the street address. A required stronger base to hold it, lighting, landscaping and irrigation were also approved.

The objectors included Georgian Bluffs Mayor Al Barfoot, who voted with five others against the plan as presented. Barfoot said he wasn’t sure his ratepayers would be comfortable with the price. “That’s a huge amount of money.”

But Hanover Deputy-Mayor Bob White observed councillors are planning to spend $8 million to expand the county building but were arguing about a $200,000 sign. “For the life of me I don’t know why you would be against it.”

Chatsworth Mayor Bob Pringle said in an interview that the corporate services committee, which he chairs, raised the same cost concerns but decided to do the sign well. But he invited the landscape architect, Haig Seferian, to Tuesday’s council meeting to field questions.

Seferian told councillors the use of stone “is going to make a statement.”

The administration centre’s sign will be 11 metres long by three metres high — tall enough not to be obscured by snowfall during a typical Grey County winter, Warden Duncan McKinlay offered during county council discussion Tuesday.

Signs for Grey Gables in Markdale, Rockwood Terrace in Durham and Lee Manor in Owen Sound will be lit and feature the home’s name and the county logo. The administrative building’s new sign and one across the road at Lee Manor will be installed in mid-September, with the others to follow.

The administrative centre’s sign will be visible coming and going along Highway 6/10 on the southern border of the city. The current sign is only visible to people entering Owen Sound.

The county’s branding exercise last year delayed the planned replacement of the county administration centre sign, which was budgeted for 2012. The new logo was also controversial, with some questioning the design.

Sharon Vokes, the county clerk and director of council services, said in an interview the signs have grown tired and some feature the old county logo.

The administration sign, featuring that Grey County logo with its wandering river through a lush valley, was installed about 10 years ago. Its panels were supposed to flip over, changing the image, but never worked properly, Vokes said.

Including the address will assist people who frequently can’t find provincial offences court in the small building behind the administration. Both share the same address, she said.

Meanwhile, the county is also having a look at its faded roadside signs, maintenance of which has been curtailed in anticipation of replacing them following the branding and in light of tourism considerations raised by belonging to the provincial tourism region RTO7, covering Simcoe, Bruce and Grey.

The planning and community development committee will come back to council with a report likely in October, Vokes said.