There’s a downtown feature that’s especially popular during Trail’s sizzling hot summers –the Victoria Street sign that shows just how high Silver City mercury can climb.
Unfortunately, the time-temperature display went on the fritz during the winter and can’t be fixed because new parts for the 15-year old electronic sign are no longer available.
The Trail and District Arts Council (TDAC), owner of the message board, is currently fundraising for a new display, but it could be mid-July or later before a new one goes up.
“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘I can hardly wait to see the new sign and see if it’s 43 degrees out again this summer,’” laughed TDAC’s Judy Wray. “I don’t know if it was working properly then,” she explained. “But when it broke down, the arts council realized we have achieved the goal we wanted to with the message board, so we decided we better get a new one up there.”
In the late 1990s, the arts council spearheaded a committee of tenants from the Greater Trail Community Centre, such as Selkirk College, the VISAC Gallery and Trail gym club, to brainstorm ways of improving visibility of the local arts and culture scene while boosting the facility’s profile in the community and to out-of-towners.
“Trail was being recognized for its past accomplishments with individuals and teams in sporting events,” Wray explained. “So part of the committee’s goal was to advance the profile of arts and culture in the community and raise the profile of those in the community centre.”
After three years of fundraising the arts council installed the electronic message board in 2000. Since then, besides providing time and temperature to all those passing through town, TDAC’s sign has promoted all kinds of goings-on such as theatre performances, art exhibitions, Sunday cinema showings and educational opportunities at Selkirk’s Trail campus.
“Another big consideration is that the arts council has a contract with the regional district to promote the Charles Bailey Theatre,” explained Wray, referring to the $30,000 the council needs to raise. “That is also the rationale behind replacing it.”
The City of Trail agreed to invest $5,000 last month, also the council was recently awarded about $12,000 in grant money from the Community Initiatives and Affected Areas program and is awaiting news about another grant application.
“Once the amount is accumulated then the arts council will contribute the rest,” said Wray. “It’s a massive project and a lot of money for a little arts council, but it is for the community.”
As the Trail Times continues to recount city events for the newspaper’s 120th anniversary, an edition from May, 1976 was randomly chosen for a quick read.
In the bottom right corner of the May 17 front page, was an artist’s rendering of Cominco’s gift to Trail to honour the city’s 75th birthday.
Marc Marcolin, Cominco’s then vice president of Trail operations, presented Mayor Chuck Lakes with a model representing the company’s anniversary gift of a 25-foot time and temperature sign, scheduled for installation on Victoria Street by June 15 that year.
Mr Marcolin said the $20,000 sign would give the community more of a “big city” appearance, while Lakes said the plus factor was the space for the city’s public service messages.
The sign was by a company called Neon, and described as visible along most of Victoria Street from the Terra Nova Motor Inn to the crest of the Columbia River bridge.
The original sign wasn’t automated, rather city crews had to replace the letters, clarified Sarah Benson, director of Trail’s archives, adding, “they called it the Cominco time and (sometimes) temperature sign.”