A proposed sign bylaw failed to strike a balance between municipal aesthetics and local businesses’ ability to advertise to the satisfaction of council.
Sicamous district administrator Alan Harris presented a draft of the bylaw to council at the last committee of the whole meeting. He explained it was the result of concerns expressed in the past by council, relating to sign clutter and public safety in regard to distracting drivers.
“Staff were asked to come up with a bylaw that addresses the plethora of signs along Highway 1 as you drive in, and this is what this bylaw does, it cleans it up,” said Harris.
The bylaw, as presented, addressed a variety of signs, from freestanding to sandwich boards, to window signs, prescribing restrictions to size, location, spacing etc. For example, no off-site advertising would be allowed. Some signs, such as freestanding signs, would require a permit, as well as inspection by the district.
The bylaw also prohibited the following types or states of signage: abandoned, animated, banner, flashing, billboard, off-premises, portable/ changeable copy, roof, rotating and vehicle.
Clarifying the difference between a freestanding sign and a billboard, Harris said a billboard advertises something not on the same property as the sign.
Also provided in the bylaw is language for enforcement.
“The progression would be, a nice letter saying ‘please remove the sign,’ and if they don’t remove the sign in a period of time, here’s a ticket and we go from there,” said Harris.
The bylaw proved to be too restrictive for council.
“As long as they are within a certain size and nice looking, I cannot understand how we could possibly want to eliminate them,” commented Coun. Lynn Miller. “I do not understand how everything we turn around and do is to make sure our community cannot advertise. If you can’t advertise here, why would you even want to be here?”
Works services manager Grady MacDonald explained how some signs placed in the district right of way can get in the way of winter snow-clearing and summer mowing.
With the bylaw in place, the district would just take these signs down and place them in the public works yard for the owners to pick up. Harris noted the district has permission from the Ministry of Transportation to do the same with signs along the highways.
After much discussion, council voted against the bylaw proceeding to council, and Harris was given direction to tweak it so that roof and billboard signs would be allowed, and window signs wouldn’t be restricted in size to 25 per cent of the window.
Miller noted that billboard and roof signs would still have to be approved by council and inspected by the district.