The deadline to enter a contest to design new welcome signs for Nelson is Aug. 13. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The deadline to enter a contest to design new welcome signs for Nelson is Aug. 13. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nelson launches design competition for welcome signs

Deadline for entries is Aug. 13

The City of Nelson has launched a competition to design new welcome signs at the three highway entrances to the city.

This follows a decision made earlier this year to replace the existing signs, which are starting to deteriorate.

In May the city launched a public survey using ThoughtExchange technology in which residents were asked the question, “What are the most important things we should consider in exploring new designs for the Welcome to Nelson signs?”

Presenting the results to city council on July 13, city planner Sebastien Arcand said the survey attracted 1,113 participants who contributed 1,261 thoughts that received 45,462 ratings.

The program asks for initial brief “thoughts,” then allows respondents to rate other people’s thoughts up or down. Overall results are influenced by these ratings.

Several themes resulted from the survey, all scoring similarly: maintain similar design (iconic), natural materials, local/unique/quirky/creative, well lit and visible, simple, Indigenous recognition, and history/heritage.

In the responses there was a dichotomy between keeping the current design, with the highest number of adherents, and updating and changing the design, with fewer.

Two things everyone seemed to agree on were the need to use natural materials, and a desire for something creative and quirky, typified by this comment from a respondent: “Keep it rustic, creative and quirky. That’s what Nelson is all about. We don’t need a gentrified Nelson sign with a tacky pun and no emotion.”

The call for submissions and entry form can be found at

The city received funding for the design and construction from a provincial grant program for tourism dependent communities.

Arcand said the competition is open to anyone to send, by Aug. 13, a conceptual design to a design review panel who will shortlist 10 design concepts by the end of August.

Those 10 designers will be given $1,000 to refine their designs, which the panel will then shortlist down to five by Oct. 31.

The community will vote on the five finalists in early November.

The winner in the community vote will receive $2,500, and second and third will receive $1,500 each. Those three designs will be presented to city council for a final decision in late November.

The city will put the project out for tender in December, not assuming that a winning designer would have the wherewithal to construct the sign, although the designer may arrange to be involved in the construction.


Nelson’s welcome signs: have your say on the new design