Local officials are hopeful that new signage will be installed this summer that not only welcomes visitors to Pemberton, but reminds them the Spud Valley is a hub of activity just off the highway.
Members of the Pemberton Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Pemberton and the village have been in discussions over the past several weeks on how the town’s welcome sign can be updated to better reflect the municipal boundary while encouraging motorists to turn into town instead of continuing along the road.
The long-term vision is to install new signs in all directions entering Pemberton that would improve upon the small brown sign at the entrance to One Mile Lake Park. However, a sign visible to motorists travelling north up Highway 99 is the priority for this year.
“Certainly, having some new and improved signage on all connections to Pemberton I think is really important, just to create a sense of arrival,” said Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy.
“It has been on the radar for a couple of years, ever since we learned that we were going to be successful in that boundary extension (in 2011),” Sturdy continued. “The entrance to Pemberton hasn’t been One Mile Lake since the previous boundary extension … so we’ve always recognized that we needed to amend that.”
Chamber past-president Paul Vacirca has been taking the lead the project’s coordination, first describing the idea in detail to council during a committee of the whole session last month.
“With Pemberton, it’s just ‘drive straight through,’ and unless you turn left at the lights, you won’t see the beautiful town of Pemberton,” said Vacirca. “We really want to slow tourism traffic down to welcome them to Pemberton when they reach the boundary — let them know that just 15 kilometres down the road is the great town of Pemberton.”
A large part of the overall signage plan would be to advertise major community events — such as Ironman Canada or Slow Food Cycle Sunday, as examples — as a way to encourage visitors to make a return trip.
All agencies with a hand in the project are also looking to craft a Pemberton brand that would bring the signage to life, but Vacirca said it’s likely that the first sign south of Pemberton will be installed this summer with the basic details, with branding elements to be added later.
Vacirca met with Pemberton Cultural Roundtable members this week to brainstorm some branding and design ideas
“You’ve got three or four seconds, travelling at 100 km/h, to capture the imagination of a driver without distracting them,” he said. “They’re not going to read a book, but it’s got to be more than one word, and is it going to be more than just ‘Welcome to Pemberton?’ What is that branding that we want to establish that says what Pemberton’s all about?”
Meanwhile, village staff has been in talks with the Ministry of Transportation on finding suitable locations for signage. Sturdy said village and chamber officials would meet in the coming weeks to nail down the specific details such as funding options, final designs and the long-term vision of the initiative to install more signage in the future.