By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton politicians are sending mixed signals about constructing gateway signs. Most like the idea of a gateway sign at Highways 403 and 6, but they reject paying the exorbitant cost in a time of fiscal restraint.
Councillors agreed in a 9-7 vote at their May 14 meeting to ask staff to examine if city employees can build a new gateway sign to reduce the estimated $230,000 cost. They also want to consult with the provincial Transportation Ministry about building on their property.
Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark said there are people within the corporation who have constructed impressive gateway signs already, such as the Battlefield Museum display at the corner of King Street and Centennial Parkway.
“I’m struck we haven’t talked (to them),” saidClark.
Other politicians felt a gateway sign is essential for Hamilton, especially with the city hosting the Pan Am Games in 2015, to welcome people to the city.
“The location is ideal,” said Mayor Bob Bratina. “That is a phenomenal spot. The price may be a little bit out of line.”
Politicians had initially wanted to have five gateway signs installed at various sites across the city at a cost of about $100,000.
But city staff recently presented a plan to build one sign with the name ‘Hamilton’ and incorporating a forest background on the site.
Politicians, though, balked at the expense. The high cost for the sign was because of the material that will be used, including steel and concrete, plus the specialized design and construction.
“It’s foolhardy,” said Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla.
Other councillors suggested the cost can be mitigated by soliciting private donations, or partnering with Mohawk College, said Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead.
“I support this,” said Stoney Creek councillor Maria Pearson. “It’s sad to see you don’t have that (city) identification.”
The idea for building gateway signs at Hamilton’s entrances has been around since post-amalgamation. The city had even budgeted $100,000 for the project in 2007. And there was a plan to construct the signs by 2009, but no cost was ever presented to politicians.
Other locations under consideration included the Queen Elizabeth Wayand Fifty Road, Highway 6 and Freelton, Highway 403 and Alberton, and QEW and the Red Hill Parkway. A gateway sign is already located at QEW andFruitland Road, which was built by the former City of Stoney Creek.
Last year Laura Babcock, a local business person urged council to resurrect the idea, and she prompted a community campaign for the issue.
Gary Moore, director of engineering services, cautioned politicians that if they want the gateway sign up by 2015, the city needs to discuss with the Transportation Ministry in a few weeks so Hamilton can get approve to build on their property. Approval by the ministry could take until February 2015.
And depending upon the weather, city staff said some preliminary construction may have to take place this fall in anticipation of poor winter weather.