‘We want your decision reversed’: South Elmsley CEC asks Rideau Lakes for digital sign they were counting on

A sign at the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex in Rideau Lakes faces Highway 15 and is hard to identify the facility by passing motorists. One Rideau Lakes councillor asked if it would be possible to change the sign so it is readable and add a “Library” banner sign to it, along with spotlights to highlight the facility. – Laurie Weir photo

Revisiting a budgetary item for 2024 was voted down by Rideau Lakes Township council on March 11 during a regular municipal services committee meeting.

Karen MacPhail, South Elmsley’s community enhancement committee chair, asked if council would reconsider the LED sign they had requested – which was previously approved – be reinstated. The cost was $40,000, but the CEC had $10,000 they would invest for the signage at the Ronald E. Holman Municipal Complex (REHMC) on Highway 15.

“We are looking for a digital sign to let everybody know where we are,” she said. “Our complex has a big hall, and our kitchen is full of dishes for more people than you can even put in that room. We have a wonderful library; we have recreation outside that is coming along. It has a pump track. We need an electric, programable sign.”

MacPhail said they requested this from council about four years ago and up until the March 4 meeting this year, it was going ahead.

At that budget meeting, council removed the line item.

“Two weeks ago, we found out we weren’t getting our pickleball,” she said, as that too was removed from the budget.

“We put an emergency meeting together,” MacPhail explained at which time they created a motion to bring to council. She asked that council reinstate the digital signage installation.

“In other words, we want your decision reversed,” she said.

With easy access from Highway 15, and a large parking lot, MacPhail said they want the signage in a visible spot so people know where to find them. Currently, there is a new sign advertising the complex which faces the highway. The digital signage would be programable so it would benefit the township, she said.

“It’s not just for us, it’s for everybody,” she said. “That’s the part I don’t understand. It’s for everybody to use.”

The sign could be programmed to support activities throughout the township, like Elgin Days, the Delta Fair, or even hazardous waste days, she said.

The CEC’s original financial contribution was $7,000 toward the cost of the LED sign, but they agreed to add another $3,000 to it, “because we are very serious about it,” MacPhail said.

Vicki Stevenson, CEO of Rideau Lakes Public Library, offered the library board’s perspective on the issue.

“We’ve been very happy to be in that facility,” she said. “The South Elmsley branch, since it opened almost two years ago, has become a very busy and thriving branch.”

One of her favourite things to do is drop by and see all the families discovering the place, she said. But she’s surprised by the feedback from people who didn’t know there was a library in the REHMC.

Through outreach and social media, Stevenson said they’ve been able to advertise the location and programs at the South Elmsley branch, but a digital sign would go a lot further in spreading awareness.

“I know it’s a priority for the board,” she said. “We have new signs at one of the five branches thanks to township staff. We have a new Township of Rideau Lakes logo and sign on the Elgin branch. So far, we are only that far along on our rebranding and signage.”

The library has some portable and pop-up signs, Stevenson said. “I think there is a lack of a definable sign at that (REHMC) location; certainly, one that you can see if you’re going by at a good clip on Highway 15.”

Signage remains a priority and they’re looking for a solution, she said.

Stevenson said they used the LED sign at the Elgin municipal centre as a template when it came to hooking up their Wi-Fi connection, to ensure that the signal strength would extend out to the sign.

“We qualified for a connectivity grant through the province for the South Elmsley location so the library was able to leverage funds to upgrade the network at the South Elmsley location – and they brought in heavy equipment and put in a cable under the highway. Now we’re also getting some support with our monthly bills,” Stevenson said, funding that didn’t have to come from the township.

She said that signal strength should be able to support any new digital signage that may be installed at the REHMC site.

“Just to speak to some of the health and safety, or security issues around the building,” Stevenson added, they’ve received many calls about the lighting issues at the parking entrances. “It’s very poor lighting.”

The first motion brought forward following this presentation acknowledged the signage request, which passed unanimously. The second motion asked for reconsideration of council’s earlier decision. This motion was defeated.

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE

Later in the meeting, when Steve Holmes, the township’s new manager of parks and facilities, presented his report to council, Coun. Sue Dunfield asked if he could look at the safety issues surrounding lighting and signage at the REHMC.

She asked if he could turn the sign currently at the complex so it could be read by motorists travelling both ways on the highway, “putting a banner sign underneath that says ‘Library’, and maybe putting a couple of spotlights on it … just a thought,” she said.

“I know it’s not in the budget but I don’t think it would be very expensive to do,” Dunfield said.

“They are concerned about the lighting for the entrances and I wonder if that can’t be looked at as well. I think we need to follow up with that. It’s a safety issue.”

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