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Update on those downtown PA speakers that crackle and pop like your dad's bad knee

The pole-mounted speakers have all been replaced, except in Heritage Square where the rusty primordial utility poles also need replacing
The new sound system cost $30,000 to purchase and install. David Helwig/SooToday

The music from most of Queen St.'s annoying public-address system will soon sound sweet as a spring serenade, Downtown Association directors learned Tuesday night.

All the crackly old speakers on Queen St. from East to Dennis have been replaced, Josh Ingram, the association's general manager, told the association's monthly board meeting.

The new sound system, which cost $30,000 to purchase and install, will play music from a Sirius XM account.

"About half of the speakers weren't functioning the spring of 2016," Ingram told SooToday.

The association will experiment with a variety of musical genres to determine what works best downtown.

"If you were to ask me, I'd say we'd cater to the community. I'm 30 years old and I like Beatles."

Ingram said he's excited with the improvement in sound quality.

"I've heard the tests in the other blocks.....I think they sound real good."

There's a problem, however, in the Heritage Square neighbourhood around the Old Stone House.

There, installers encountered major problems with the condition of utility poles on which the speakers were to be mounted.

"Getting everything okayed with the engineers and the city took far longer than we were expecting," Ingram told SooToday.

The city's planning staff now advise half of the power poles in that neighbourhood will be replaced later this year and the other half will be replaced next year.

"We're not installing until those new poles are in," Ingram said.

Because of the installation problems, speakers in Heritage Square will likely be connected through wifi or Bluetooth.

The new utility poles in Heritage Square will be similar to the existing green poles, with hardware to hang banners on both sides.

In other news, the Downtown Association set what SooToday believes is a local record for approving the minutes of its last meeting, taking one hour and 36 minutes to do so.

The lengthy debate occurred after board member Grace Tridico objected to $15,000 being spent on a tourism and branding consultant.

The association's membership will be asked to ratify the expenditure at its annual general meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Loplops.

Board chair Bryan Hayes and Rory Ring, chief executive officer of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, both warned Tridico that it would be inappropriate for her to challenge the expenditure at the Feb. 27 meeting, because she's a director and the board has already voted in favour of retaining the consultant.

"You're not supposed to be saying anything," Hayes told her.

"I will be vocal when I have to be vocal," Tridico replied.

Board directors learned that the third annual Queen Street Cruise will take place June 15 and 16.