The new roadside sign design has been scrapped by South Dundas council. Council narrowly defeated a motion at the April 2, council meeting that would have allowed South Dundas’ roadside signs to be replaced with new redesigned signs.
South Dundas, in partnership with South Stormont, commissioned a $10,000 study to redesign the signs to include the shared Upper Canada Region branding and to have a uniform appearance across the region.
South Stormont council approved the new design at their March 11 meeting.
The new sign design removes the images that were featured on past designs, including the McIntosh apple from hamlet signs throughout South Dundas and the ship that is featured on the 401 exit signs at Morrisburg and Iroquois.
“There are no images in order to ensure that the name (South Dundas) is relayed effectively without any clutter,” said South Dundas economic development officer Nicole Sullivan.
“What we wanted is for our signs to be timeless. Images and pictures tend to fade and soon become outdated. That’s why we went with only text.”
“If you have graphics, you have to pick one, and then you have effectively pigeon-holed your community,” said Sullivan.
The recommendation to change the names on the 401 signs to South Dundas from Iroquois and Morrisburg was done to align South Dundas’ greater marketing efforts.
“If we want name recognition, it needs to be consistent,” said Sullivan. “We’re marketing the whole South Dundas community, not just Iroquois and Morrisburg.”
The majority of council was not swayed by Sullivan’s arguments.
Council members had various ideas about what should be on the signs such as images and logos, but the majority agreed that they did not like the roadside sign design they were presented at the March 5 council meeting by consultant Tom Graham of T.D. Graham and Associates.
Councillor Archie Mellan said that an image, like the McIntosh apple, serves a purpose. “It grabs your attention.”
Councillor Evonne Delegarde agreed. “We might be missing the boat if we eliminate graphics from our signs,” she said, adding that she has had no positive feedback on the new design.
“I don’t like the new design,” said South Dundas councillor Jim Graham.
“To me the design is plain and institutional. I like the signs we have with the apple and the boat.” He added that he has been asking people about the new sign design and that he has not had anyone say they like it.
“People don’t like change,” said South Dundas deputy mayor Jim Locke.
He was satisfied with the sign design suggested by the consultants, who were able to explain the reasoning behind the choice of this new design.
“We partnered with another municipality to do this, and here we are not happy,” said Locke.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds was swayed by the consultant’s arguments in favour of the new design, especially of using the medium to promote the Upper Canada Region brand.
“This branding has been on the shelf too long not to give it a try,” said Byvelds.
“The signs on the 401: I am of the firm belief that it is time to make them South Dundas signs,” said Mayor Byvelds.
“We are South Dundas council and we need to stick together and emphasize that point. We have to start thinking of South Dundas as one, and it needs to start at this table. It is not just Iroquois and Morrisburg and the rest. Yes, the new sign design is very plain but the apple and the ship are not unity. That’s just more division. South Dundas is unity.”
“This is our opportunity to go forward with the Upper Canada Region brand, to promote South Dundas and to work with South Stormont,” he added.
“I have no problem with using the South Dundas name and the Upper Canada Region. I fully support the branding,” said Councillor Graham. “I am not happy with the design that was presented, and I don’t have to accept it.”
“What do we do, scrap it?,” asked Deputy Mayor Locke.
The apparent answer to his question was yes as council voted to defeat the motion to accept the new sign design.
“I am not sure of our path forward from here,” said Mayor Byvelds. “Now we have no signs, and no budget to pay for a redesign.”