In numbers, the annual migration rivals the historic salmon run that once pulsated past Revelstoke in the Columbia River.
One figure puts the number of people passing through Revelstoke in vehicles travelling on the Trans-Canada at six million annually.
If we could only steer a small percentage more into town, the reasoning goes, we’d be set.
It’s about time we take another run at highway and city wayfinding signage, the members at a Sept. 26 City of Revelstoke planning committee heard.
City committees and tourism stakeholders are launching a drive to revamp wayfinding and tourist signage on both the Trans-Canada Highway and in downtown Revelstoke.
In addition, high-level discussions are taking place around the two vehicle entrances to Revelstoke – Victoria Road and the eastern access.
Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce executive director Judy Goodman said the consensus is clear: “We’ve got to drag them downtown. Everybody says that. A big part of that is how do we get people in from the highway and how do we improve existing signage,” she said.
Goodman is launching a series of meetings and consultations in the coming months, dovetailing with ongoing city efforts.
It’s not a new concept. The giant grizzly statues near the Tim Hortons are the result of a similar effort, as are many downtown revitalization amenities. And if you observe specifically for tourist signs, they’re everywhere – all along Victoria Road and on the highway.
But they’re also notably absent in other locations. The two big pull-outs west of the Columbia River Bridge don’t inform tourists that there’s a downtown Revelstoke.
And other longstanding criticisms remain. The giant ‘WELCOME’ sign next to the train bridge on Victoria Road is barely perceptible with its black paint against a dark background. Revelstoke’s official colours – gold and burgundy – aren’t a good colour pairing for a sign if your objective is legibility from a passing vehicle.
At the Sept. 26 committee meeting, City of Revelstoke engineering director Mike Thomas explained the Victoria Road/Mutas Road entrance is a top priority on his list, calling it one of the worst-designed intersections he’s seen. He’s hoping to get preliminary surveying and consulting work budgeted soon, although the physical work hasn’t yet been firmed up.
The committee also reviewed a proposal from the Chamber of Commerce for downtown wayfinding signage that would be affixed to the existing heritage light standards. The idea was kicked back for further consideration by Thomas and City of Revelstoke CAO Tim Palmer. They cited design issues with the proposal for 38 signs pointing out things like the museums, gardens, city hall, parks, bars and the post office.
“The risk of marching ahead is there may be a proliferation of signs that is not actually ultimately meeting the objectives,” Palmer told the committee.
Others, like city councillor Chris Johnston, wanted to move forward more quickly. “I think it’s something we should be doing sooner rather than later,” he said of the downtown signs.
“They were unanimous; we’ve got to get more presence out on the highway,” Johnston added.
Mindful of past signage scuffles, the committee seemed keen to clarify communication issues and move forward with wayfinding.
Goodman told the Times Review that stakeholders can expect a consultation process closer towards winter.
“It’s time to do some updating,” she said of the existing signs.
The highway entrances are likely a longer process, involving the provincial transportation ministry, whose prime directive is keeping traffic moving.
The City of Revelstoke’s Resort Municipality Initiative fund has earmarked funding for tourism-driven improvements to the eastern access.
Correction: In the print version of this story, we stated as many as six million vehicles are believed to pass by Revelstoke on the Trans-Canada Highway on an annual basis. In fact, we intended to say some estimates put the number of people in the vehicles that pass by at six million. We regret the error, which we caught and corrected before this story was posted online.