The Peace River Regional District is still weighing its options on how to best reach rural residents with important information after the closure of the Alaska Highway News and Dawson Creek Mirror. 

At their Nov. 23 Electoral Area Directors Committee meeting, Area E director Dan Rose suggested that portable signs in the rural areas could be a viable option for public notices, particularly meetings, as many of the roads to the rural communities are one way in and one way out. 

“With the loss of newspapers and ways to advertise, I think that may be our best bet down the road, is putting those signs in strategic places to advertise public hearings, meetings, etc.” said Rose. 

Rose further noted that the signs could also be used during elections, and inquired whether they could be funded by remaining COVID-19 grant funding. Recording equipment for rural meetings would also be valuable, he added. 

Print had been chosen by the regional district as a reliable option for public notices and to ensure information reached rural residents, many of whom do not have an internet connection. 

PRRD CAO Shawn Dahlen said it may be possible to use their remaining COVID-19 reserve fund to purchase the signs, with $111,470 unused. Dahlen added that staffing would also be needed to manage the signs. 

“If this is to come in house with four signs, then that means additional resources from field services to be able to go out and change these signs, move these signs, pick these signs up, bring them back to our warehouse, take them back out,” noted Dahlen. “And I don’t know at this point what those costs look like, in comparison to hiring a contractor to do that work.”

Board Chair Brad Sperling said the signs could also be valuable for advertising community round-tables, especially in light of the new Emergency and Disaster Management Act. 

“I think the board would be open to having a look at that sort of thing, or whatever staff brings forward to try and get that communication out in a better fashion,” said Sperling. 

A motion was passed to research the costs of acquiring and administering four portable signs. 

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 24, 2023 at 13:05

This item reprinted with permission from   Alaska Highway News   Fort St. John, British Columbia

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