Four 30-foot-tall signs to welcome people to Hope

It’s possible that no BC community appears on as many highway signs as Hope. Wherever you go in southwestern BC, you’ll likely find a sign directing you to the tiny Fraser Valley community.

And soon, it will be impossible for any driver to miss when they finally reach their waypoint. The tiny community is commissioning the construction of nine different welcome signs, four of which will be massive in scale.

The design of a town’s welcome sign can be controversial and trigger significant public debate—often more than a community has been expecting. Hope’s plans haven’t reached that stage, but they’re already worth considering for the sheer scale described in a request for proposals issued earlier this month by the district.

While many communities may have a sign or two positioned along highways that enter their cities, Hope wants more. Far more. The district has commissioned signs for nine different locations. They’ll be erected along various freeway exits, near the bridge over the Fraser River, on Othello Road, on Highway 3, and on Old Hope Princeton Way.

It will be near impossible to get into the village without passing a sign. (The City of Vancouver, for comparison’s sake, had five welcome signs as of 2015.)

But what really stands out is the scale of the signs Hope is seeking. (A budget has not been revealed; more on that later.)

The design is being left up to the winning company, but the district has deemed that the signs “should be of robust presence.” It adds: “Ideally a monument / pylon type structure is preferred.”

And we’re not talking about little monuments. The four largest signs should reach 30 feet into the sky and be 14 feet wide. That’s more than three storeys tall and suggests a 420-square-foot sign face. For a sense of scale, the clearance of an overpass near one sign location is just 17 feet. The signs are also supposed to be nearly two feet thick and illuminated at night.

The new Hope signs will be the latest phase in the district’s ongoing signage project. In its published call for submissions, the municipality has left the door broadly open to designs, saying only that the design concept “shall symbolize the spirit of the community.” It said the signs will need to welcome residents, tourists, business, and others to “this friendly destination” while “encouraging the exploration of our superior quality of life.”

A district official told The Current by email that the “overall look of the signs will be in keeping with District of Hope branding guidelines.”

No budget for the project is listed. The District official said the municipality couldn’t comment because of the open procurement process. Some municipalities have previously ran into controversy for the cost of their welcome signs—and few commissioned as many as nine.

The Current also sought to verify that the signs would actually be 30 feet tall (and not 30-feet wide) but did not receive a response.

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