The nights in Burnaby are about to get a bit brighter.
City council decided to purchase a 6-metre tall (20 foot) neon sign for $2,000 at Monday night's meeting, which is considered a heritage asset by a staff report. Another $9,000 was approved to restore the 52-year-old sign.
The Lost in the 50's Drive-In neon sign sits on city-owned property at 7741 Edmonds St., which is near the north side of the commercial strip near Canada Way.
"The arrow neon sign remains as a rare surviving example of neon sign art in the city and is the only historic neon sign remaining in South Burnaby," the planning and building report states. "The sign has gained prominence over the years as it has been associated with this small iconic drive-in, which has also been utilized as a set for film productions."
The city acquired the Edmonds property in 1975. The property was leased to restaurant operators, who maintained the lease agreement for the sign from its owner, Neon Sign Crafters.
Neon sign makers often retain ownership of the sign but in recent years have started to sell them off, according to Coun. Colleen Jordan.
"In recent years, the previous business owners of the restaurant have not maintained their obligations under the lease agreement with the sign's owner to maintain the sign in full operating condition," the report states. "As a result, the sign's lease agreement has expired with the owner of the sign."
Last May, council approved a new five-year lease for the restaurant with its new restaurant owner. Staff negotiated with Neon Sign Crafters and came up with the option for the city to purchase the sign, pay for initial restoration costs and work with the restaurant operator to pay for the future monthly maintenance costs.
The sign will require monthly maintenance at a cost of about $1,800 a year, according to the report. It includes the fascia lamps, ballast and transformers for the sign.
"The arrow neon sign has been a much-loved community landmark on Edmonds Street for over 50 years," the report states. "In recent years, neon signs have become widely recognized for their important design aesthetic and contribution to creating lively public streetscapes."
The Neonette Sign Company of New Westminster made the arrow sign in 1961 when the restaurant was previously known as the Tomahawk Drive-In.
In 1990, the restaurant was then known as Lindy's Burger, until it was renamed as the Lost in the 50's Drive-In.
Neon Sign Crafters regularly maintained the sign's metal work and pole, but the glass neon light tubing is going to need reconstruction and replacement as part of the restoration project.
The city will use its gaming funds for the project. The maintenance cost would be part of the city's expense requirements for the property's lease.
Whoever leases the property would be responsible for the electrical billing to operate the sign and the cost of maintenance, repair or replacement related to the lexan sign panels, according to the report.
"The drive-in has played a prominent role in the Edmonds community as a popular setting for recent Show and Shine participants to park their classic cars," the report states.
The sign's future long-term use will be based on the city's on-going commercial lease for the Edmonds property.
"The civic acquisition and restoration of this important neon sign artifact would provide an opportunity to further advance the city's objectives for recognition of our past," the report states.
The sign's conservation conforms to several Official Community Plan goals - including civic acquisition and stewardship of heritage resources, and maintaining/enhancing the Edmonds Street commercial district.
Coun. Jordan said the city has no photographs of the original sign art when it was first made for the Tomahawk.
Jordan is calling on anyone who has photos of the restaurant from 1961, before it became Lindy's Burger, to contact the city's archives department at 604-297-4818, or by email, email@example.com.