Beaconsfield and Pointe-Claire are climbing on board the trend to utilize digital screens to deliver community and emergency measure announcements.
The new e-boards are meant to replace the old-fashioned sandwich boards that many community groups use to advertise upcoming events, from concerts to art exhibitions.
Another impetus for acquiring an electronic message board is to be better prepared to deliver emergency notices, like the non-consumption advisory Pointe-Claire sent out last October, which also affected several neighbouring cities it supplies with potable water.
“In retrospect, it could … have been used to deliver that timely message on St. John’s Blvd.,” Pointe-Claire Mayor Bill McMurchie said of advisories last year that followed a problem at its treatment facility, which supplies much of the West Island with drinking water.
“We tried to get in touch with as many people as quickly as possible,” he recalled. “We used loud speakers, contacted radio and TV newsrooms. We made trips to seniors’ homes and even posted signs at some apartment buildings.”
Montreal’s automated emergency phone system was also activated, but many citizens were only called several hours after the Pointe-Claire advisory was initially given.
The new e-boards will be helpful in case there ever any future emergency advisories, McMurchie said.
In August, Pointe-Claire awarded a contract worth about $99,600 to Les Enseignes Perfection Inc. for a two-sided digital screen to be installed shortly on the southeast corner of StJean Blvd. and Donegani Ave. near city hall.
The city will evaluate the new message delivery system and may purchase two other screens in the future, with a site probably along Sources Blvd., McMurchie said.
The mayor said technological improvements prompted his city to invest in the new message boards, which he described as television-quality screens, adding they were not interested in the scrolling letter e-boards that were popular a few years ago and are used in nearby Dollard-des-Ormeaux. “This is a distinct improvement,” he added.
Beaconsfield council, despite the lone vote against by Mayor David Pollock, awarded a $93,000 contract last week to Les Enseignes to deliver a digital display panel that can incorporate moving images and graphics with messages. The two-sided electronic board, measuring two by three metres, is to be installed on St-Charles Blvd. near Sherbrooke St.
Pollock said he opposed the digital board purchase, citing costs, and questioned if it’s the right technology for a location along the median or if it’s even best suited to meet the community’s needs.
“It’s expensive, it costs close to $100,000 and there’s also the technology. I’m not so sure it will look too good from close up, from about 25 feet away,” he said. “I’m not sure that’s the right solution to our communication issues.”
Beaconsfield’s new e-board is expected to be installed this fall.
Baie-d’Urfé adopted a bylaw amendment this year to prohibit the use of any type of sandwich boards in town. The measure came after the town invested about $48,000 last year to acquire and install an electronic billboard.