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Ford's ‘Open for Business’ signs to cost an estimated $106,700

Last Updated Nov 2, 2018 at 6:04 pm EDT

The Ford government’s “Open for Business” signs are estimated to cost $106,700 in taxpayer money, the premier’s office said on Friday.

In a statement, spokesman Simon Jefferies said 25 signs will be upgraded or replaced at 18 different locations.

“The estimated cost of manufacturing, shipping, and upgrading these individual signs range from $3,300 to $8,000,” he said.

“Of the 18 locations where signs will be upgraded, three locations are missing four signs and must be replaced. The cost of replacing the four missing signs is estimated to be $32,000, and the estimated cost of upgrading 21 existing signs is $74,700.”

It took the government several days to release the cost of the project, after making the announcement last week.

On Monday, 680 NEWS and CityNews reporter Richard Southern posed the question about costs to Premier Doug Ford directly.

“I’m not too sure but I’ll find out,” Ford said to Southern at Queen’s Park. “I’ll find out and get back to you.”

On Friday, Ford unveiled his first “Open for Business” sign at a border crossing with the United States. Ford and several of his ministers were on hand for the event at the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward, just north of Sarnia.

The premier pulled a black cloth off the sign to reveal the blue and white placard which reads, “Welcome to Ontario; Open for Business.”

“Ah, doesn’t that sign look beautiful,” he said.

Ford first mentioned the idea for the signs during the provincial election campaign, and last week he announced they would be going up.

“You’ve been hearing for months that we’re going to put signs right across every single border in Ontario to tell the world, and especially our great neighbours to the south, that Ontario is open for business,” he said.

Ontario NDP legislator Taras Natyshak said the cost of the signs likely doesn’t take into account maintenance, which means the cost could increase over time.

“People in Ontario will see this as nothing more than a cheesy exercise in sloganeering,” he said. “I’m sure they would much rather see those dollars invested in local infrastructure and supports for education or small business.”

Liberal legislator Michael Coteau said despite the premier’s claims, the signs won’t do anything to help improve economic development in the province.

“It’s hard to believe that the government would make such a big deal over 18 signs,” he said. “When you dig a little deeper there’s nothing there, there’s no plan…If 18 signs are his economic development strategy we’re in some pretty big trouble.”