DRAFT SIGN BYLAW RAISES CONCERNS WITHIN LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY
OSOYOOS TIMES-February 24, 2010
By Laurena Weninger – Osoyoos Times
“For us to be successful, we at least need to point people in this direction,” said Don Brogan, general manager of Walnut Beach Resort. “We’re off the beaten path, for crying out loud.”
Brogan is reacting to initial reports of what might be included in Osoyoos’s new sign bylaw, which, if approved, is scheduled to take effect this year.
Alain Cunningham, the Town of Osoyoos’s director of planning and development services, said most municipalities have a bylaw to regulate signage, but Osoyoos has never had such a policy.
Cunningham brought a draft of the bylaw to council at a committee of the whole meeting in December.
That draft explains the purposes of the bylaw, which include the protection and enhancement of the Town’s aesthetic attractiveness.
The bylaw would also be meant to promote effective advertising for commercial businesses that informs rather than confuses customers and avoids excessive visual competition between signs; to protect the safety of drivers and pedestrians by limiting distractions from commercial signs; to minimize nuisances from signs in residential neighbourhoods and to regulate safe sign placement, construction and maintenance.
Primarily, the bylaw will distinguish three types of signs – signs that are allowed without a permit (typically non-commercial signs and smaller commercial signs), allowable signs with a permit (typically larger commercial signs) and prohibited signs or those that have to be removed within 30 days by order of the Town.
Prohibited signs would include undesirable signs that are unsightly or cause visual clutter or safety distractions.
Examples of signs on the “prohibited” list include animated signs, roof signs, those on wheels and can be moved (excepting sandwich board signs), signs on vehicles that are used as a static display, those affixed to a utility pole or tree, and any sign on a street right-of-way.
Third-party or offsite signs will also be prohibited – just as Brogan feared.
“These are signs that are advertising another property other than the ones they are on,” Cunningham explained.
An example would be the sign at the corner of Hwy. 3 and Lakeshore Drive, advertising Walnut Beach.
That’s bad news as far as Brogan is concerned.
He said the Town is encouraging people to set up businesses off the beaten path and it’s unfair if those businesses can’t then at least point the public in the right direction.
Brogan said the resort rents the space for the sign at that corner from the owner of Westminster Equipment Rentals and the signage is considered a necessity for the resort’s business.
But Cunningham said the new bylaw will be fair, despite fears it will hurt businesses that need off-site advertising.
“A lot of businesses are concerned they could be placed at a competitive disadvantage,” he said, explaining sign bylaws are among the most difficult to write and enforce.
But the rules will be the same for everyone.
“Everybody will be placed on a level playing field,” he said.
Osoyoos Mayor Stu Wells said he would be in support of establishing some sort of a system of group directional signs that are uniform and approved by the Town to direct traffic to businesses.
The main goal, he said, is to avoid advertising competition that involves the “biggest, brightest, gaudiest signs.”
Cunningham said Town staff is working further on the bylaw and it will come back to council in the near future.