Big, bright and built to endure whatever Mother Nature throws at it, White Rock's newest advertising tactic now greets motorists heading north on Highway 99 from the Douglas (Peace Arch) border.
Unveiled Wednesday, the 10-foot-by-40-foot billboard is to remain in place on Semiahmoo First Nation land for a year, with organizers hoping it will encourage visitors crossing into Canada to take the first exit off the highway and spend some time in the seaside city.
An initiative of the White Rock Business Improvement Association and Tourism White Rock, the billboard features photography donated by White Rock resident Tim Shields – who is an RCMP officer in Burnaby – and promotes InWhiteRock.com
Three years in the making, it is hoped to catch the eye of an estimated three million northbound travellers expected to cross into Canada this year.
Friday, Shields, Mayor Wayne Baldwin and representatives from the BIA and Tourism White Rock checked out the finished product.
"It's the first thing you see," commented Shields, as the group ventured across the highway to take a closer look at the billboard.
The featured image was captured while standing in the waters off of White Rock, looking towards the shore, he said.
BIA executive director Sherri Wilson Morissette said early response to the billboard has been positive. The image, displayed on a durable vinyl wrap, will be changed after six months to keep things fresh for passing motorists, she said. What that next image will be has yet to be determined.
City council voted earlier this month to share the $42,560 cost of leasing the billboard for a year, on the condition its effectiveness be monitored.
Wilson Morissette said Friday that will be tracked through methods including online and spot surveys; as well, through surveys of hotel and bed-and-breakfast visitors.
"We're asking people, 'did you find us because of the billboard?'" she said.