The Welcome to Campbell River sign at Jubilee Parkway and Island Highway will remain bare of flowers this summer.
Gone are the colourful annuals that used to bloom in the garden patch below the big grey sign. Weeds and tall grass grow there now.
One resident said that’s not sending a good message to tourists driving into the city.
“It’s so embarrassing,” said Campbell River’s Lynn Michaluk.
“The dandelions are taller than the grasses, it’s disgusting. It just looks so awful. We want to project that Campbell River is a beautiful community to live in (which it is) and welcome people to move here, and this is what they see as they drive in?”
Esther Kowalko, who moved to Campbell River two years ago, said, “the weed patch under the CR welcome sign is sad.”
Michaluk suggested the city could save some money by assigning gardening duties to offenders who need to complete community service hours.
“Why not do this?” Michaluk said. “Garden centres may be willing to donate (vegetation). There’s also garden groups, there’s landscapers.”
But Coun. Larry Samson, council liaison to parks and recreation, said although the issue was brought up at council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on July 24, flowers won’t be planted this year.
“Unfortunately, it’s too late in the season to do any planting because we’re already into August,” he said. “But council’s looking into ways to make it look more appealing.”
Those include cleaning up the vegetation around the sign, getting rid of the weeds and cutting the grass lower down to the ground.
“Under the circumstances, and the budget being the way it was, it was the best we could hope for at this time of year,” Samson said.
Council chose not to plant at the sign this year when it cut the city’s horticulture budget by 25 per cent, or $49,000. That translates to a loss of two full-time seasonal positions that worked 40 hour weeks from April to September.
Samson said that as it stands now, that was a one-time measure and council has budgeted for flowers to be planted at the welcome sign next year.
Samson said at last week’s committee meeting, council also talked about making “significant” improvements to the Sea Walk, such as repairing areas impacted by erosion, getting rid of some blackberry bushes and other improvements to make the Sea Walk more accessible to walkers, bikers, and roller bladers.
The city is also in the process of re-planting vegetation that died in a patch along the upgraded section of Island Highway, near Forberg Road.