A preliminary rendering of the proposed LED marquee sign along Highway 97. (City of West Kelowna)

A preliminary rendering of the proposed LED marquee sign along Highway 97. (City of West Kelowna)

West Kelowna Warriors owner thinks 24-foot marquee could help game attendance

City council supportive of idea at first consideration

A proposal to erect a LED marquee along Highway 97 informing West Kelowna residents of events at Royal LePage Place and other community facilities was met with support by city council.

West Kelowna Warriors president Chris Laurie proposed the idea at a May 11 regular council meeting, who said that the sign would raise more awareness about the team and the arena.

“I think (the facility) is getting underutilized and underpublicized right now,” said Laurie. “We need to do a better job of promoting Royal LePage Place because it is a tremendous facility.”

Laurie’s suggestion included a preliminary rendering of a sign that stands 24 feet high, featuring an LED screen that is 10 feet wide and nearly six feet high, equipped with Royal LePage and City of West Kelowna logos. If given council’s final approval, the sign would be located on the corner of Bartley Road and Highway 97.

Laurie said the sign could be a significant boost in promoting the team and increasing attendance.

“It’s been no secret that in the past, the Warriors have had inconsistent attendance to games. One of the challenges is getting our messaging out and our communication of our schedule,” he said. “I think this would have a tremendous impact if there was a sign on the side of the highway that could inform the public of our next games.”

Mayor Gord Milsom said that he supports the sign, highlighting the role that the Warriors play in the community.

“There are other stakeholders we can reach out to — the school district, the high school, Mount Boucherie Bears and other organizations that can use some promotion and help,” said Milsom.

While noting community pushback in the past regarding the abundance of billboards along Highway 97, Coun. Doug Findlater said that the sign is a good idea, but the city must ensure that it’s a city facility, not a commercial billboard.

“We have editorial control over it. It’s not commercial,” said Findlater. “It’s something that need-not-be just all about the Warriors. It may be many other events as well, as (Laurie) suggested. It’s something to help promote events.”

On a similar note, councillor Carol Zanon highlighted community concerns about the “visual pollution” that comes with excessive billboards and signage along the highway. Still, she said it’s a “worthwhile reason” to promote community events outside of Royal LePage Place.

“I want to see how we can do something that is appealing to many other segments of the society here, other than the followers that use the Royal LePage Place. I think we have to look to emphasize the positive aspects of this and there’s not a lot shown here,” said Zanon. “I know council members are very, very enthusiastic Warriors supporters, but for the overall community, we do need some more than that.”

Despite concerns about its design, councillor Rick De Jong said that the proposal is an idea that he can get behind. He put forward a motion asking council to direct staff to engage with key stakeholders — including the West Kelowna Warriors — regarding the design and installation of the sign before bringing a report back to council.

“It’s the details I want to see worked out,” said De Jong. “I certainly hope staff can engage on your side and work out the details and bring back a final report to council that I can get behind and support.”

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