Mother Nature has delayed installation of new digital billboards in New Westminster.
Last year, the City of New Westminster approved the installation of four new digital billboards in the city. The signs will be located at Highway 91A at the Queensborough Bridge, Highway 91 at the approach to the Alex Fraser Bridge, on Brunette Avenue at the Highway 1 East on-ramp and on McBride Boulevard at the south end of the Pattullo Bridge.
Keith Whiteley, a project manager with the City of New Westminster, said it's expected the billboards will be in place by the end of March.
"It's the groundwork that is taking most of the time," he said. "They have had a few delays getting materials in because of Hurricane Sandy and the weather they have had back east."
While excavation is getting underway at some sites, foundations have been poured at other sites. Despite the weather issues back east, some of the materials have been delivered.
The City of New Westminster has signed a 20-year agreement with All Vision Canada, which will pay all costs associated with building, maintaining and marketing the digital signs. It will manage and maintain the digital sign program.
The signs are expected to generate between $1 million and $1.6 million annually for city coffers, but the city has yet to determine how it will use the revenues.
"We will see revenues probably coming in in 2013," said Gary Holowatiuk, the city's director of finance and information technology. "It is a fairly stable source of revenue but it does have a definitive time of 20 years. Strategically it would be wise to use it for strategic initiatives or maybe capital projects."
A staff report considered by council as part of the 2013 budget deliberations showed that the digital sign program could generate $500,000 this year.
"It's actually going to grow to be somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million over the next two to three years," Holowatiuk said.
While budget reports originally included the anticipated revenues of $500,000 into the draft 2013 budget, they were later removed. Holowatiuk said at least one councillor had questioned what the budget would look like without that digital signage revenue in the picture.
"Staff has committed to bringing forward a report based on work that's been done both in the budget survey and an independent survey done on how those funds should be used. Some of the suggestions that came from the public was pay down the debt, and other options," he said. "We thought we would remove that at this point in time and have another discussion with council when that report is ready."
Staff will report back to council about potential uses for the revenues.
"That will come back to council within the next couple of months," Holowatiuk said. "Staff are working on a report right now."
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