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New councillors want sign law to be more business-friendly

December 23, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Councillors Don Kidd and Nick Garisto are making a push to see changes made to the Town’s current sign bylaw, in the hopes to make the process more favourable to both existing and future small businesses. The issue, which was a large part of Councillor Garisto’s campaign, is that the current bylaw seems to work against businesses instead of for them, said Councillor Garisto.

“Our current bylaw is very restrictive to businesses,” he said at last Monday night’s special council meeting.

“I heard from them during the election, and they want to see change, so I have a motion to submit.”

It transpired that the bylaw needed to be passed before a motion could be made to change it, and council voted to pass the bylaw.

During the discussion, Councillor Sylvia Bradley defended the current bylaw, explaining that it is in place strictly to protect the town from unwanted electronic signage.

“This particular bylaw that is in place is simply to control any proposed electronic signage for businesses,” she explained. “The old bylaw that was in place was silent on electronic signage. That’s what this is all about. It passed through the council, and it passed through the committee; this is just to formalize it.”

But whether or not the specific revision was made to prevent ‘pollution’ of too many undesirable electronic signs, both Councillors Kidd and Garisto feel that the method for any signage in the bylaw is causing far too many restrictions.

“Last year, I sat in the gallery and listened to the debate, talk and difficulty Fabricland had in getting their sign up,” said Councillor Kidd.

“It took two years to get a sign up. In July, he wanted to put a banner up on the fence to advertise onto the bypass, and the previous council wouldn’t let him put it up. He was made to wait until August before it was approved.”

He added that he knew of another lady who had put up a small sign to help draw attention to her business on First Street this past year, and she was told it needed to be removed.

“The sign bylaw to me is nothing more than an attack on small businesses,” he said.

According to Councillor Bradley, the issue with Fabricland was not a town problem, but rather an issue with the owner of the plaza.

“The bylaw committee was working within their parameters, but the issue was with the owner, not council,” she said.

She also added that the revised bylaw was not a product of just input from the town, but that the committee was made up of a number of business-people in the community, including representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the BIA, and local business owners.

“The premise of this bylaw is to make Orangeville a welcoming, beautiful place, not a desperate looking one,” said Councillor Bradley.

“We want to improve the signage, not eliminate it. We don’t just want to survive, we want to thrive. We want to make it attractive for tourism and other businesses to come in, so we do need to have some regulations and controls.”

Regardless of whether the issue with Fabricland had been with the plaza owner, Councillor Kidd felt that the portion dealing with the town directly was still unnecessary.

“From what I understood, the owner was to be allowed to put up the sign once certain restrictions were met, but it was the town that prevented him from putting the banner on the fence,” said Councillor Kidd. “Why wasn’t he allowed to put it up? He had to wait another month after waiting almost two years to get to that point. In Owen Sound, he was approved to put up the sign in just six months.”

He added that the issue wasn’t so much the bylaw’s existence, or that it’s purpose was not noble, but that the way it rests right now, it’s not beneficial to the business community.

“The signs in Orangeville needed straightening up,” he said. “No-one is arguing that. But businesses need signs. We need to re-look at this bylaw.”

At the end of the discussion, Councillor Garisto added that tourism is a big reason why the bylaw needs to be changed.

“If I came into town as a tourist here, if I was going to walk around and see a sign that states there is a special, as someone not from here, I would appreciate it and might give them some business,” he said.

“I don’t believe it is a deterrent. We’re still going to get business and we’re still going to get tourism if we change the bylaw.”

Councillor Garisto’s motion to look into amending the bylaw, which was seconded by Councillor Kidd, was passed.

         

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