The Squamish Nation plans to erect an electronic billboard on band land at the south end of the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver, four on the North Shore and one more near Squamish. ((CBC))

A controversial plan by a First Nation to erect several electronic billboards near busy Vancouver-area bridges and highways been has been approved by the federal government's Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Toby Baker, the senior operating officer with the Squamish Nation, said the band is negotiating a multimillion-dollar multi-year deal with an advertising broker for use of the signs. Pending a final vote on the proposal, the band council is expecting to sign a contract with a supplier to erect and operate the signs by Christmas, Baker said.

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Baker said the billboards will be located on four sites on reserves and band land around Vancouver, the North Shore and Squamish:

  • One adjacent to the south end of the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver.
  • Three along the Trans-Canada, Highway 1, close to the north end of the Second Narrows Bridge, but not visible from the bridge.
  • One in West Vancouver along Marine Drive between the Lions Gate Bridge and Capilano Road, but not visible from the bridge.
  • One along the Sea-to-Sky, Highway 99, just south of Squamish.

Eighteen of the huge billboards were originally proposed by the Squamish Nation, but after widespread public opposition, that plan was scaled back to just six billboards, with screens about three metres high and nine metres wide in order to minimize their impact, Baker said.

The City of Surrey also recently proposed to install as many as 10 massive electronic billboards near its major bridges in order to raise some cash. The city has already put out a request for proposals for a company to build and maintain the signs, which would measure about four metres by 16 metres.