Think before you “Sign”: A Letter to the Mayor

Jim Galloway:  Nov. 7, 2010

Mayor John Ruttan,

I’m concerned! Why?

For both Single Family and Multi Family (2 – 4 units) the proposed Bylaw would allow one Realtor sign up to 4′ X4′;

plus an additional 4’X4′ “sold sign’, for a further period of 60 days,

and as many as 25 additional Construction Site Signs, provided the total combined area was not greater then 100 sq. ft. (and if each sign was not larger than 2’X2′), or if they were say to be 3X3′, then the max would be reduced to 11.

I’m sure you would agree, for a single family property, that’s both a significant amount (sq. footage) and number of signs!

I also note:

– as to the Construction Site signs, the same formula is applicable to all properties, whether small single family, or large multi family / commercial i.e. there is no limitation on the number of signs, other than each must be less than 16.1 sq. ft., say 4’X4′, and the combined area cannot exceed 100 sq. ft. in total.

– virtually any party that supplies anything to the property would be able to erect a sign, as the terms ‘contractor’ and ‘subcontractor’ are not defined in the Bylaw

– for Real Estate Signs the words “located on the property” are used. However, for Construction Site Signs the words “site of construction”, “on the premises undergoing construction”, “or a property undergoing subdivision”‘ and “on a property” are used. Frankly, I submit this is ‘bush league’ language and obviously the drafting has not been reviewed with legal input.

– proposed Subsection 6(1) (C) states “Real Estate Signs shall be removed …..14 days after the final sale” yet 6(1) (D) states removal is to be “within 60 days from the date the sign is erected”. Again, we see conflicting wording, which will only lead to confusion.

– the Staff Report has a significant and important typo error. The sliding scale for Real Estate Signs shows the maximum area for the first category (Single Family) to be 6 sq. ft., when in fact it is 16.1 sq. ft. that Staff have now proposed.

– in yesterday’s Daily News, Derek Spalding, also has the sizes screwed up. He writes of the smallest limitation being .5 of a sq metre, when in fact the Staff Report, and draft wording of the Bylaw amendment, is recommending 1.5 sq metres i.e. 16.1 sq. ft.

The existing Bylaw limited both the number of signs (2) and the total area to 65 sq. ft.; whereas the proposed amendment will permit virtually an unlimited number of signs and the total area, at minimum, increases to 132 sq. ft. i.e. for single family, with significant increases thereafter. Does this only serve the needs of business, again at the expense of the public in general, being the Citizens and residential taxpayer? Clearly the answer is …without question, yes. When is Staff, and some of Council for that matter, going to stop cowing to business and also listen to what is required to run our City in an orderly manner?

Spalding also comments “there should be little debate on this issue….given that the politicians agreed with the amendments last month”.

Who is it that sets this reporter up? Staff?

In fact, what Council voted on a month ago is significantly different than what is now proposed by Staff!!

– for Single Family the max size has increased from  6 sq. ft to 16.1 sq. ft. (a 168% growth),

– an additional Real Estate sign (sold, for 60 days) has been added (a 100% increase),

– the criteria that each Construction Site Sign was to be of equal area has been deleted, and

– the important limitation as to the number of Construction Site Signs has been deleted (with the number now potentially going from 1 to 25).

One gets the feeling this matter is being pushed through simply so that it can be said ‘the issue’ has been addressed, when in fact it has not. I have for the past year and a half raised with Staff the question of Realtor / Developer Sandwich Board signs and have yet to receive any meaningful response. The type of sign I’m referring to are the large SB signs that are being placed on Island Highway North, in the vicinity of Woodgrove. Question: if in fact they are not a permitted sign, which clearly they are not, then why is it Bylaw Services has, for the past year and a half and continues to this day, refused to deal with them? Planning, Community Safety and Development Staff are well aware of this type of signage, not to mention it was also highlighted in the slide presentation to Council. Is Council going to provide Bylaw Services with  direction as to a meaningful enforcement policy, when the amendments to the Bylaw have been made? Is Council going to address the question of a responsible proactive enforcement policy, versus the complaints only reactive system currently in place?

In closing, I would encourage further review of these matters before finalizing the revisions of the Bylaw. I submit this matter should not be treated as a simple slam dunk. After all, it has taken 3 years to get the City to this point and the issue of visual clutter remains of importance. Do the proposed changes address the image of our City? I for one do not think so and to approve this matter, as recommended, will only be another step backwards, as was the Boston Pizza variance approval.