By Trevor Busch
Town administration has put forward a series of recommendations to council on how to improve gateway signage at entry points throughout the community, as well as other locations.
The Town of Taber’s Strategic Plan identifies the development of entrance/gateway identification options as a strategic initiative to be completed by the town. Administration completed a draft Gateway Signage Review Report and brought it to council for approval and comment prior to commencing public consultation. Once public consultation is complete, a final document will be brought back to council for review.
Gateway signage is located at key entries into a town, and provides visitors and residents with one of the first impressions of a town’s character and theme.
Additionally, gateway signage can provide information on events, activities, and businesses located within a town. For a town like Taber located along a major thoroughfare, attractive and informative gateway signage is essential for encouraging travelers to visit the town and support local business. It can also assist in improving economic vitality and providing a strong sense of place that will leave a lasting impression.
The Gateway Signage Review Report takes an inventory of all signs that currently exist on Taber’s main thoroughfares, and provides reports on their conditions and recommendations on how the signage could be improved in the future.
Goals for gateway signage includes improving town brand awareness, conveying the town’s sense of community, consolidating signage in a more cohesive manner, encouraging travelers to explore Taber and visit businesses, allowing visitors and residents to easily and comfortably navigate main attractions, businesses and services, provide an attractive and enticing entryway into the town from all gateways.
Town gateways are the main entrances to the town that see a high volume of traffic on a daily basis. There are four main gateways and two secondary gateways into the town. The town currently has two types of main entry signs. There are four “Welcome to the Town of Taber” signs, and two “Welcome to Downtown Taber” signs.
“All four of the signs are in good condition except for the south facing sign on Highway 36, which has experienced significant sun-fading,” stated administration in the report.
The two downtown signs are “in good condition, however the sign located on the west side of town has significant peeling and rusting on the metal portion of the signage.”
Secondary entry signs are typically located near the beginning of key corridors and provide information on community groups and events. There are five different types of secondary entrance signs located along the highways entering the Town of Taber: Taber Service Clubs, Canadian Badlands, Taber Community Against Drugs, Twinned Communities, and Cornfest advertising.
The service clubs sign was singled out for particular attention.
“Both signs are in very poor condition. Most of the steel is rusted, and many of the logos are peeling and faded to the point where some of them are indecipherable,” states the report.
Signage plays an important role in dictating traffic, especially for visitors and other vehicles passing through town on their way to another destination.
“Although more studies would be required to properly display the amount of people that visit downtown Taber as a destination, or stop in as they pass through town, the traffic trends indicate that this number may be fairly low.”
The main entrance to the downtown core is via 50th Street from Highway 3. The daily statistics for vehicles heading towards Downtown from the intersection of 50th Street and Highway 3 are as follows: from the west on Highway 3 – 950 per day; from the east on Highway 3 – 510 per day; and from the south on 50th Street – 1,440 per day.
“This gives the sense that most traffic entering the downtown area may be locals, as visitors are unlikely to enter downtown from 50th Street south of Highway 3,” reads administration’s report. “Additionally, of those entering from Highway 3, it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of them are likely workers, locals, or people coming from nearby rural areas.”
The report targets a number of secondary entry signs for potential removal.
“Although some of the secondary entry signs are in good condition, it is not recommended that any of them should remain in their current format, except for maybe the ‘Taber Community Against Drugs’ signage. The remainder of the secondary signs could be consolidated…all existing wayfinding signage should remain in place, but a few updates and additions would be recommended to improve navigation within the town.”
Signs that could be removed: Canadian Badlands (town is no longer part of the Canadian Badlands group); Taber Service Clubs (these signs are in poor condition, are outdated, and could be consolidated into a new sign with other secondary entry signs); older Welcome to the Town of Taber – north end of town Highway 36 (sign is redundant and outdated).
Recommendations in the report include main entry sign repairs, secondary sign removals and consolidation, selecting a town theme and colour scheme, developing a main gateway feature, installing visit downtown signage, and developing a wayfinding signage plan.
Following discussion, council voted unanimously to accept the Gateway Signage Review Report draft as information for consideration, and directed administration to proceed with public consultation prior to bringing the document back to council for further review.