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Regional district to amend sign regulations
Rural residents in Osoyoos and Oliver will see some amendments to the regional district’s sign bylaw, but enforcement continues on illegal signs.
Last week the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) board voted to update or change the regulations and look at what other jurisdictions do to prevent the “proliferation” of signage.
Last fall the regional district announced that it would address complaints about too many signs along Highway 97 between Oliver and Osoyoos. Officials stated the proliferation distracts drivers and negatively impacts the natural beauty of the area.
Working with the Ministry of Transportation, the district sent letters to property owners regarding the removal of illegal signs, including third-party signs.
The regulations state that property owners cannot have a sign that advertises another person’s business. The sign can only advertise their own business or product.
In addition, the rules say you can only have one sign per property and that sign has to be a certain size and height (no higher than 10 feet).
But many farmers and business owners argue that third-party signs on Highway 97 are necessary for their continued success.
At a recent public meeting, many people spoke out against the regulations. Some said the rules infringed on their rights and freedoms, while others said enforcement would kill their business.
Greg Thorp, owner of Riverside Garden Centre north of Osoyoos, said if he couldn’t rely on third-party signs, on the highway, he would have to lay employees off due to a loss in business.
Regional district chair Mark Pendergraft said their decision to amend the regulations was partially due to the feedback received at last month’s public meeting.
“I can see us easing up (on the rules), similar to what other municipalities are doing.”
As for third-party signage, Pendergraft said that is a real challenge.
The rural Osoyoos director acknowledged that some people find highway signs distracting, but he admitted that he doesn’t notice them. He only notices when a new sign is erected.
Area C director Allan Patton said he wants to see how other jurisdictions deal with the signage issue.
“If there is a jurisdiction out there that is doing it right, I want to know about it.”
The director noted that many jurisdictions do not allow third-party signage, adding the regional district doesn’t have much room to budge on this rule.
Officials plan to enforce this aspect of the bylaw by removing these signs. However, they’re hoping that voluntary compliance will occur before this happens.
Patton said the focus is on the property owner, not the sign owner. He noted the proliferation of winery signs is also being targeted for enforcement.
Patton said the majority of the signs in question are located within the highway right-of-way.
Ministry officials state they will remove private signs within the right-of-way.
Patton acknowledged that highway signage is important to businesses operating on secondary roads, but compromising on third-party signage is difficult.
Special to the Times