A proposal by the Squamish Nation to install six digital billboards in high-profile Vancouver-area locations has been approved by the federal government.

The most controversial spots include the approach to the Lions Gate Bridge, the south end of the Burrard Street Bridge and near the Stawamus Chief in Squamish.

The signs would be three-metres high by nine-metres wide and use LED lighting to display six advertising messages per minute.

While opponents of the billboards — including all three North Shore mayors — say the structures are eyesores that would ruin the natural look of the locations, the senior operating officer for the Squamish Nation downplayed those concerns.

“The one by the Chief ... we’re building a gas station, a gaming centre, there’s the highway, then there’s a sign in a little plot of land that’s not even adjacent to the Chief,” Toby Baker said.

“There are some billboards already on that highway — we’re doing one.”

He added there won’t be a sign adjacent to the Lions Gate Bridge and that people won’t even be able to see it from the bridge.

“The only one that is close to a bridge deck is the one in Kitsilano,” Baker said. “It will be very close to the Molson (Brewery) sign that’s already there.”

Anita Bedell, spokeswoman for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, which approved the signs, said they did not look at aesthetics.

“In terms of the environmental assessment, its purpose isn’t really aesthetics, it’s more health and safety, if it’s going to have an environmental impact in the area.”

A driver’s distractability study was also conducted.

Baker said the billboards are expected to generate millions for social programs for the Squamish Nation over a period of 20 years.

“My hope is they’ll be on the ground by Christmas 2009.”