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Gateway sign still too costly, say councillors

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Hamilton politicians have signaled again the $230,000 estimated cost of a Hamilton gateway sign along Highway 403 and Highway 6 is too pricey for taxpayers to pay

“I’m not against the (sign),” said Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnston. “It’s the money. I’m not comfortable with the number.”

Councillors had requested city staff review the cost of the gateway sign, which would include the name of the city on a base with trees as a backdrop, last month, and then provide an update to politicians at their June 4 general issues committee meeting. But politicians still balked at the cost for the program, especially when it could rise to nearly $1 million if three other signs are installed at the entrances to Hamilton.

Andrew Grice, manager of policy and programs said city staff had been in contact with Laura Babcock, a local business person, who has been campaigning to get the city to install a gateway sign for the city, to help mitigate some of the sign’s cost. City staff acknowledged some of the $230,000 will be reduced through in-house work. But staff argued the gateway sign is a specialized project that needs to be contracted out.

Last month, Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark pointed out the new sign forBattlefieldHouseMuseumat the corner of Centennial Parkway and King Street should be used as an example of a city-led project that could be used for the Hamilton gateway sign. But city staff stated in a report to politicians that sign still cost about $300,000.

Some councillors, including Jason Farr and Brian McHattie, have been urging the installation of the gateway sign in preparation for Hamilton hosting the Pan Am Games next year.

“The location at (Highway) 403 is key,” said Farr.

But they have insisted that part of the cost can be deferred either through partnerships or through internal cost savings.

Clarksaid city staff and councillors should consider all of the proposed gateway signs and not just the one on Highway 403. He said signs should be installed at three other locations, as laid out in the staff report: Highway 403 andAlberton Road, Highway 6 and Freelton, and the Queen Elizabeth Wayand Fifty Road at an additional cost of about $750,000.

“If we do one, we do the other three,” saidClark.

He questioned why his colleagues would agree to the gateway sign project without the proper information, including the cost of building on provincial Transportation Ministry property. He said there are still permits to get, ministry requirements to receive, and the proper costs to finalize before green lighting the project.

“We are making great haste to satisfy the concerns of a few,” he said. “I’m really not comfortable on the one off.”

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla reiterated his opposition to what he first thought was a project that would cost less than   $100,000.

“I’m consistently opposed to this redundant sign,” he said. “It’s all about dollars and sense. This doesn’t make sense.”

Politicians will get another crack at the project after referring the issue to the July 7 general issues committee meeting.

 

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