Are signs a problem? In some areas yes and the “bone of contention” at the moment is a stretch of straight highway from the boundary of Oliver (Road 1 to Road 5) full of colourful fruit stands, flags, orchard signs, product for sale signs, some with wavy air filled contraptions.
About 5 years ago the Regional Board tried to solve the perceived problem but hit a brick wall in dealing with the Ministry of Highways (MOTI) which stated – unless there was a safety issues that department would take no action – ‘Way to Political’. But the enforcement arm at the RDOS also did nothing but drop the ball, shuffle the problem under the carpet – help I am running out of metaphors.
Recently there has been a number of issues about signage from large Wineries to large Fruit Stands that want to become seasonal cafes and on and on. Should business be restricted? Should tall signs be allowed – lit up in the night a beacon for long haul truckdrivers?
Everywhere there’s signs
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the signs
Enough of my chatter – what is on the mind of the Rural Area Director – once again squeezed between the rock and the hard place.
Rick Knodel: “Below my speaking notes to the board, the issue of a workable signage bylaw will be brought forward to the planning and development committee this fall.
Denying this variance (Chahal – Nature’s Basket) would have created some very serious problems and triggered enforcement of the current bylaw which cannot be applied to what is the greatest problem the signage on MOTI right of way. MOTI will not enforce on their right of way which would have caused more signage to be moved from private to the right of way.
(Editor’s Note – the RDOS bylaw regulated on fee simple land. MOTI regulated signs on a Right of Way it controls or can)
What is in the variance will have to comply with whatever the new bylaw will be when complete. …. There was a suggestion to the previous signage applicant (Check Mate – a winery) to move their signage to the highway where it should be. If we apply the current bylaw that and all other signage for businesses that are not on the highway would have to be placed on MOTI right of way as the current zoning would not allow this. The problems would have just started there and I do not believe the RDOS should be in the business of creating havoc that would disrupt agricultural business without an end plan.
To that end the APC has been successful in re-opening the discussion on a workable signage bylaw. Staff is looking into other similar areas to see what is working and it has been suggested to look at public input as we have a degree of uniqueness here.
Rick Knodel told his fellow directors two weeks ago
“The existing regulations are buried inside the Area C zoning bylaws and are in no way representative of the agricultural businesses that we have been vigorously promoting for a very long time now.
In fact if we were to enforce the current regulation we would damage if not destroy a large number of the businesses we have both locally and provincially been actively encouraging. This situation has been known for a long time now and there have been attempts to rectify or upgrade the regulation but this is complicated by a potential need to involve the ministry of transport MOTI.
The last attempt was abandoned in 2014 when after much effort the MOTI walked away from the table at the 11th hour when they decided that they had no appetite to enforce on their right of way unless the signage presented a serious threat to safety. The process stalled and was never brought back resulting in a no enforcement possible situation and unspoken policy.
If you stand in front of Natures Basket and look to the left and right you will see three other similar businesses all with the type of signage in question just more of it and not always neat. A further look 600 meters in either direction will reveal two more with similar signage and three businesses with electric signage. A reasonable person seeing this and not readily finding a bylaw online regarding signage would conclude that similar signage of a high quality would be acceptable.
This request for variance was brought in front of the APC and it noted that this signage was of high quality and appeared that it would have been in compliance with the proposed 2014 regulations had they been brought to completion. It was also noted that this would fit what is currently the norm for signage in this area and this is what the APC saw as the problem in that by supporting this they would be endorsing a new bylaw which is the job of the RDOS Board and not recommending a variation for a single usage which is the APC’s function. It is for that reason that the APC declined this and sent it forward with the recommendation to the board encouraging the creation of a reasonable local signage bylaw.
To that end I will be asking that the subject be brought forward to a future Development Services Committee meeting. …..
Two weeks ago the RDOS board of directors allowed a variance on its own sign bylaw that under most circumstances restricts the size of such advertising and whether on not signs can be illuminated.
The Area Planning Committee which met prior to the RDOS Directors recommended that the Bylaw regulations be upheld and that many changes are needed – there should be a complete re-write done on the Rural Sign Bylaw as it pertains to farming and ALR parcels of land.
Disclosure: Jack Bennest is a member of the Area Planning Committee – Area C Oliver.