The City of Fernie plans to welcome Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) signs this year that will encourage locals to call 911 if they suspect an impaired driver.
During the June 22 council meeting, MADD Community Leader Katryna Sigurdson approached council requesting that the signs, which have already been implemented in Kimberly and Cranbrook, go up in Fernie.
“The [MADD] program is to encourage people to call 911. It increases the perception for drinking drivers that they will get caught,” Sigurdson said, adding, “It’s no cost [to the city]; it’s completely paid for by MADD.”
The signs feature a bolded black notice, stating Report Impaired Drivers, in addition to a red notice that states Pull Over, Call 911.
Sigurdson highlighted the recent success that the signs have had in nearby Kootenay communities, noted that in both Kimberly and Cranbrook within the first three weeks that the signs went up, Sigurdson was informed that calls to 911 increased by 33 per cent.
“The response has been really incredible,” she said. “It’s a really good program.
Council unanimously approved the installation of the signs.
Coun. Jon Levesque highlighted the necessity of the signs in a small community like Fernie, stating, “What I found coming from a different centre is that in the smaller communities, there’s a lot more people who feel like its okay to take a couple of back roads and drive while impaired.”
“I think it’s a great program,” he added.
Currently six signs are installed in Kimberely, and 12 are expected to go up in Cranbrook.
Sigurdson recommended that Fernie install six signs.
Mayor Mary Giuliano, however, questioned if the signs would be consistent with the city’s current sign colours, as the sign bylaw enforces that all signs remain uniform.
“We’re willing to work within bylaws,” Sigurdson replied, noting that the signs can be customized to be a certain size and colour.
Council recommended that Sigurdson work with the City of Fernie’s bylaw officers and city planning department to finalize plans to install the signs.