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WHEREAS the Provincial Government has announced the Tourism Highway Signage Initiative, a cross-ministry initiative that intends to align Alberta’s Highway signage with standards set by the Transportation Association of Canada, and protect Alberta’s landscape, promote safety and address consistency of eligibility criteria across the province; AND WHEREAS the program will be in two stages, with the first examining tourism signs placed within the highway right-of-way, and the second examining signs located outside the highway right-of-way on private property; AND WHEREAS over the next few years, the current brown signs on Alberta’s highways will be replaced with new, blue ones. The information on the signs will be in the form of simple, easy to read text and clear, recognizable symbols. Standard symbols for attractions such as campgrounds and museums are used whenever possible for easy interpretation. Tourism operators and service providers can apply for new signs; AND WHEREAS Tourist Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) will provide directions to tourist attractions, facilities, hamlets, villages, towns, and cities; AND WHEREAS the original brown tourism and municipal directional signs were funded by the Provincial Government; AND WHEREAS Logo Signs are used to identify essential motorist services along the highway or within a community where motorists can stop for gas, food and lodging. The signs use company logos or business names to indicate upcoming services along the highway or within a community; AND WHEREAS small communities with a population of less than 15,000 are permitted to erect a Community Attractions and Facilities Sign at their highway entrance or highway access showing the significant facilities and attractions within that community; AND WHEREAS several years ago the Province of Alberta suspended any new funding through the Community Tourism Action Plan (CTAP) for the Municipal Recreation and Tourism Areas Program site development grants; AND WHEREAS tourism is a valuable resource development sector and important to local community and provincial economies; AND WHEREAS this program is being managed on a ‘cost-neutral’ basis – permit costs for signs are deposited into a “revolving fund” to support and sustain the program; AND WHEREAS there is a $35 non-refundable administration fee payable to the Minister of Finance to process this application; AND WHEREAS municipalities will be responsible for a non-refundable permit fee which covers sign design, fabrication, delivery, installation, and maintaining the sign in a satisfactory condition over a five-year permit period; AND WHEREAS municipalities will be responsible for a renewal permit fee will apply at the end of the first five year term. This will be a nominal fee, (approximately $200 $300) to cover routine maintenance activities for a further five (5) years; AND WHEREAS for all signs, the following will be supplied by Alberta infrastructure & Transportation, at no cost, to the municipality for Community Attraction and Facility Signs; green town name panel, sign structure posts, hospital and police symbols if required;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts & Counties urge the Government of Alberta to reinstate total funding in the form of a conditional grant to assist municipalities to recover the costs of replacing the tourism direction signs under the TODS program.
Tourism is one of the driving forces of Alberta’s economy. A cross-ministry initiative involving Alberta Transportation, Alberta Economic Development, Alberta Community Development and Alberta Agriculture, Food & Rural Development is changing the look of tourism signs in Alberta. The Tourism Highway Signage Initiative (THSI) established in May 2004, is responding to the concerns of the tourism industry regarding the state of existing signs placed next to the highway. The initiative also aligns Alberta’s highway signage with standards set by the Transportation Association of Canada. These new standards will protect Alberta’s landscape, promote Safety and improve visitors’ experience of Alberta. The new signs will help to reduce roadside clutter and visual pollution as well as provide safe and effective ways for travellers to get to where they are going. The program is supported by two broad signage categories: 1. TODS – tourism oriented directional signs 2. Logo Signs – signage for service businesses such as food, gas and lodging The most obvious change for motorists will be brighter blue information and directional signs to replace the existing brown signs along the highway. Other details such as larger lettering size and consistency in message and placement are factors in providing motorists with easier access to tourist facilities and motorist services along their route. Under this new program, applicants do not have to worry about design, fabrication, installation and regular maintenance of the sign. These details are looked after as part of the province’s highway sign maintenance program. Tourism Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) use simple symbols to indicate various types of tourist attractions, from campsites to museums. The signs indicate both the direction and the number of kilometers to the location. All symbols are white on blue EXCEPT Hospital and Airport symbols, which are nationally recognized as white on green. Signs included under the TODS program include: – Community Facility and Attraction Signs, which provide the name of the community and information of the facilities, services and attractions available within the community – Major resort signs – Destination attraction signs, for significant attractions in the Province – Major attraction signs, for tourist operations that generate over 15,000 visitors per year – Regular attraction signs for attractions with less that 15,000 visitors per year Logo Signs are placed within the highway right-of-way at the entrance to communities, in advance of community access roads and at commercial service roads along the highway. Generally, Logo Signs are only permitted in advance of small communities. In large communities and in rural areas, Logo Signs may be placed at commercial service road entrances. All permit fees are set by Alberta Transportation and are governed by: attraction type, highway type, visitation numbers, and number of signs. Permit fees are for a five (5) year term and include all costs – design, manufacture, installation and maintenance, (maintenance includes unlimited coverage and protection for repair/replacement against your program signs) for the five year term. Permit Fees can be paid as either a lump-sum payment or through a two-payment option. If the sign is knocked down or damaged, the sign will be repaired or replaced at no additional cost. There seems to be some confusion as to which signs are to be replaced, and the ownership of those signs. The cost of the TODS program to Camrose County will be approximately $31,600.00. As of Fall 2005, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation is reviewing the TODS program. An internal report has been presented to the Minister for review.
Alberta Tourism, Parks, and Recreation is providing a one-time incentive and rebate to tourism attraction operators to assist them with obtaining signage along Albertas highways. This incentive and rebate program applies to Tourism Oriented Directional Signs (TODS).