The high-profile downtown Vancouver intersection of Robson Street and Granville Street will receive two new larger and brighter electronic video screens, putting the area one small step closer to New York City’s Times Square and Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square.
On Wednesday, Vancouver City Council approved a sign bylaw change that will allow Bonnis Properties, the owner of the 798 Granville Street retail building that houses Best Buy and Winners, to replace the existing video screens with newer LED models.
The existing screens suspended on the third floor of the building were installed nearly 15 years ago and have reached the end of their lifespan.
With an area of 581 sq. ft., the new screens are nearly twice the size of the old screens’ area of 301 sq. ft. and will span the area between the second and third floors.
Additionally, the new models will be significantly more energy efficient, consuming about 25% of the average power of the existing screens. Ambient light sensors on the signs will automatically adjust the brightness of the signs to respond to daylight and nighttime conditions.
As well, the new screens are designed to concentrate light output to the desired viewing area – towards pedestrians – and minimize light output on unwanted areas, particularly nearby condominiums and office buildings.
The sign will be mainly used for advertising. In return, Bonnis Properties will dedicate 10% of the air time of the new screens for video art and community programming managed by the City of Vancouver. It will also provide the municipal government with $120,000 annually to administer and create the content for the City’s air time on the signs.
Outdoor video screens and building-mounted advertising signs are strictly scrutinized in Vancouver to the extent that the city has some of the toughest sign policies of any major municipal jurisdiction in North America.
But an exception has been made for the Granville Mall in downtown Vancouver given that it is the city’s entertainment and nightlife hub.
“The DVBIA encourages neon video signage in the Granville Entertainment District,” said Charles Gauthier, President and CEO of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA).
“Granville Street was at one time second to Las Vegas as the neon capital of North America. Bright signage is an important part of the heritage and identity of Granville Street and we recommend that this legacy be protected and enhanced.”
Large video board screens are also found at Canada Place, BC Place Stadium, and the southern end of the Burrard Bridge on land owned by the Squamish First Nation.