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Options for a new sign at Highway 97 and Highway 26 being explored

Discussions are underway between the City of Quesnel, Wells and Barkerville
A new modern sign could be installed at the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 26. (Rebecca Dyok photo — Quesnel Observer)

A large blue sign pointing motorists in the direction of Wells, Bowron Lakes and Barkerville could be coming down with a new modern design in its place.

The City of Quesnel is in early discussions with the District of Wells and Barkerville Historic Town and Park on options to replace the sign at the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 26.

City manager Byron Johnson said a signage initiative has been underway for the past several years resulting in the replacement or removal of signs throughout Quesnel.

“We’ve really spent a lot of effort and dollars in updating signs, so whenever we think they’re old or obsolete, maybe it’s time to take a look at it,” he added, noting new signs have been installed at the south entrance of the city and at city parks.

“We’re working with Barkerville and the District of Wells around what a new sign would look like out there, and we’ve just started that conversation.”

It has been at least 60 years some form of signage has been directing or enticing travellers at the junction of Highway 97 and Highway 26 to visit and explore the communities along the Barkerville Highway east of Quesnel, said Barkerville Historic Town and Park chief administrative officer, Kate Cox.

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Today, the current sign of unknown age continues to serve a critical role in tourism.

“We still get a lot of travellers who see the big blue sign, and they’re like wow, we’ve always wanted to go to Barkerville, and so then they come,” Cox said.

“With today’s travelers and the uptick in camping, with camper vans and travel trailers, we’re seeing a pretty big uptick in spur-of-the-moment decisions based on just the freedom of travel, so that sign is pretty important to us.”

Mayor of Wells, Ed Coleman also noted the significance of the sign attracting travellers to explore the corridor rich in history and support local business.

“There’s consultation that needs to occur, and it will happen, especially with our Indigenous communities too,” he said.

As travel and recreation in the area rebound more than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, Cox stresses it will be nearly impossible for Barkerville Historic Town and Park to come up with a new design in the middle of their tourism season.

Johnson said the City of Quesnel has agreed to leave the current sign in place for this tourism season.

“We’re happy to design something new and contemporary with their City of Quesnel sign, but we really do need to have that visibility in that spot,” Cox maintains.

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