If there is one phrase the general manager of the West Coast Railway Heritage Park is sick of hearing, it’s “we can’t find you.”
Signage and getting people off the highway is a constant battle for the non-profit railway museum, Ken Tanner said. Located just north of the industrial park off Government Road, the facility isn’t visible from any major roadway.
Museum operators have long hoped to place some bold, clear signs beside Highway 99 — but that land falls within the Ministry of Transportation’s (MOT) right-of-way. The province’s signage regulations are understandably stringent, Tanner said, leaving the museum with few options.
“There are a lot of handcuffs,” he told The Chief.
Tackling the task calls for ingenuity, Tanner said. Park officials aim to work with the District of Squamish and the private sector to come up with a solution. Placing a sign at the Squamish Adventure Centre or incorporating the railway park in Squamish’s new entry sign are examples of ideas, Tanner added.
“I do think the district is the answer,” he said, noting he’s been meeting with the Downtown Squamish Business Improvement Association regarding signage. “We are hoping that will come to fruition.”
Ultimately, the railway park would love to place a train beside the highway, Tanner said.
“The impulse visitors we are not capturing,” he added.
The provincial government has standardized designs for tourist attractions as a way to maintain consistently throughout B.C., MOT spokesperson Kate Trotter stated in an email. There are more than 250,000 signs along the province’s highways, she noted. For the safety of all road users, signs must have a carefully considered message, be of uniform design, and be applied and placed in a consistent manner, she wrote.
“[The] West Coast Railway Heritage Park has been supplied with signs that are consistent with similar businesses along major highways in the province,” Trotter stated.