City council hopes Red Deer’s giant, new welcome sign on the south end of the city is a signal of bigger things to come.
Located on the east side of the entrance into the city from Highway 2, the metal and aluminum sign stands more than six metres high, with Red Deer spelled out in red against a backdrop of grey, vertical beams.
Two red metal ribbons twist and curve beneath the words Welcome and Bienvenue in white letters.
The sign was installed on Thursday, in time for the coming 2019 Canada Winter Games, and a complementary sign on the west side of the entrance into the city will be erected next week.
Mayor Tara Veer said council has adopted a strategic direction to elevate Red Deer’s profile and identity provincially and nationally.
“If we are to be competitive for tourism and economic development, we need to strongly position our municipal and community identity,” Veer said.
She said the new sign is an improvement above and beyond what the city had previously, but it’s important to reserve judgment.
“Certainly when the whole project is complete, I hope that Red Deerians will respond well to it and like what they see. There is substantial landscaping, lighting and masonry yet to come that are a bit of a challenge because of the weather.”
Julia Harvie-Shemko, the city’s director of communications and strategic planning, said the second sign will also feature the red ribbon, along with the image of a deer.
Installation is set to begin Wednesday with completion on Friday. Lights to illuminate the signs will be put in place Feb. 11 and 12. All the work will be weather permitting.
Total cost of the signs was $1.06 million, which includes landscaping and other associated costs.
“We had an opportunity when the construction was happening on the new interchange to work with Alberta Transportation on getting a new welcome sign. The city paid for the welcome sign, but there was a lot of work that Alberta Transportation was able to do to help reduce the cost,” Harvie-Shemko said.
She said it’s the first real welcome sign the city has ever had. The ribbons represent Red Deer’s connectedness and the river flowing through the community. The metal beams symbolize some of the trees and nature in the city.