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Sarnia planning to use sign language to welcome visitors

Tara Jeffrey A large ‘SARNIA’ sign could become a fixture on the city’s waterfront next summer.
zSarnia Sign Simulation (NOT FINAL)
An artist simulation of what the proposed SARNIA sign might look like in Centennial Park, but minus the hashtag. City Hall Image.

Tara Jeffrey

A large ‘SARNIA’ sign could become a fixture on the city’s waterfront next summer.

The idea of a large identifying sign — similar to the popular “Toronto” sign in Nathan Phillips Square — was unanimously endorsed by city council last month.

“Many other communities, including Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and others globally, have installed large block letter signs naming their city,” economic development director Kelly Provost noted in a staff report.

“The signs are beloved by residents and visitors, and have become significant tourism booms in these cities.”

The idea came from the city’s Waterfront Master Plan after public feedback identified the need for “placemaking,” and the city partnered with Imperial Oil on the concept.

The sign would be comprised of letters four feet (1.2 metres) high and cost $55,000, including support beams and spotlights. It would sit on a concrete platform in Centennial Park, with Sarnia Bay Marina serving as a backdrop for photo-takers.

The city has secured $30,000 in Imperial community grant funding, and will apply in early 2022 for more funds to fully cover the cost.

If that doesn’t happen, Provost said the city could either cancel the project or tap into Sarnia’s portion of the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).

“I like the idea — I love it,” said Coun. George Vandenberg. “I just don’t know why it’s not facing out towards the river. With the amount of river traffic in the summer, I just wonder why staff went that way.”

Provost said staff considered a two-sided sign that could be viewed from the water and land.

“It is a little more complex… and would significantly increase the cost,” she said, adding that staff would get an estimate.

The final version of the sign will not include the hashtag pictured in the artist simulation, she added.

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