The Town of Hawkesbury Business Improvement Area (BIA) has a project in the works for summer 2018; an endeavour that will take the form of a massive sign, complete with LED digital display, built right at Hawkesbury’s busiest entrance.

“It all started about one year ago,” said Corey Assaly, secretary for the BIA.

“We wanted to do an infrastructure project after we had some downtown revitalization studies done (which will be presented to the town in March 2018). We already have two small BIA signs, but they’re not really welcoming. I figured we needed something that highlights where downtown Hawkesbury is and some of the other members said ‘why not add an LED screen and sell advertising while promoting community events?'”

“Nobody talks to each other,” added Suzanne Hocquard, BIA coordinator. “We want the sign to be a centre for information.”

The digital display would indeed act as both promotion and advertising tool, sharing a rotation of content ranging from business ads to event information, local and beyond.

“A BIA representative will be selling screen time to organizations and private companies. We’re currently working on a pricing structure, with varying prices for BIA members and out-of-towners,” said Assaly.

According to the BIA, anyone interested will be able to benefit from the sign and its screen will be running 24/7.

“Studio sl2 created the montage of the sign,” said Hocquard.

“HHT Landscaping did the rendered poster showcasing the work they’ll be doing,” added Assaly.

Building the actual sign requires very specific skills, however.

“We received three prices; two from Montreal and one from Ottawa. We selected the one from Ottawa, Ray Neon Signs, since this type of sign is very specialized, especially with the LED screen, which is subcontracted to Daktronics, one of the largest LED suppliers in North America,” said Assaly.

Assaly also confirmed that the sign would be built on Richelieu Park, at the junction of Chenail Boulevard, Main and McGill Street.

“The land is owned by the town and since it’s a BIA-funded project, the sign would also be owned by the town.”

That specific junction will definitely ensure high visibility, with its high volume of cars driving through on a daily basis ever since the completion of Québec’s Autoroute 50.

Cost and payment

“Right now, we have one financial supporter and we’ll soon be visiting six or seven more financial institutions and other organizations in Hawkesbury for support,” said Assaly.

The BIA has already approached the Town of Hawkesbury for financial support during a public council meeting held on January 29, 2018, asking for a loan of approximately $150,000. The follow-up to this demand was discussed at the February 12, 2018, meeting, where the town’s council approved the request.

“We have by-laws in the BIA, which don’t allow us to borrow money directly. The town can, however, borrow money on our behalf,” said Assaly, adding that, “We have the budget set up, so by the time we meet with other potential supporters we may not even need that money.”

According to Assaly and Hocquard, the total cost of the project would be approximately $155,000, including landscaping and engineering fees.

When asked if the response to the project was positive, Assaly stated that, “Some of the [BIA] board members visited businesses on Main Street and asked about the sign, the 2018 budget and membership fees. We did not get one negative comment.”

The BIA thus increased its membership fee for the new year to cover the cost of the sign as well as other projects it has in the works. According to Assaly, none were opposed to the modest increase, which represents a monthly sum of fewer than five dollars.

“Interested BIA members will also be receiving free advertising on the new sign during the first year for a certain period of time,” added Assaly.

Residents who are wondering if their taxes will be paying for the sign need not worry. The tab will be picked up by the BIA and its members.

“This is very important. It’s the BIA that is paying for this sign, not the Hawkesbury taxpayers,” confirmed Assaly, adding that “we have most of the funds already.”

About the Business Improvement Area

The BIA, a legislative arm of the Corporation of the Town of Hawkesbury, was formed approximately 30 years ago. It is a business association, a board of managers which takes care of a specific area and assists with the logistics of events held therein.

The area in question includes Main Street, John Street, Chenail Boulevard, William Street, Regent Street, James Street, as well as every other street within this zone.

Every business, office or practice residing in this zone is a member and pays a tax to the BIA, which translates to a budget managed by the organization and approved by its members.

Their mission is, and always has been, to make Hawkesbury’s Main Street a nice place at which to spend time, to shop and feel welcome.