KELOWNA - Call it the signs of the times in Kelowna.
Sidewalk sandwich boards are in; flashy digital signs are out, at least for private business. Those ugly black portable signs with the garish neon lettering? Gone. Monstrous highway signs? They’re gone too, if community planning staff at City Hall get their way.
Responding to changing tastes and technology, Kelowna is planning a major revamp of the bylaw governing signage of all kinds and city councillors a got look Monday, Oct. 16, at the recommendations.
Visitors entering Kelowna along Highway 97 would be greeted by free-standing highway signs of no more than five metres in height, says community planning supervisor Lindsey Ganczar in a report to council.
The new rules take particular aim at portable signs which the report says are often in place for longer than the permit allows and are usually poorly maintained and unattractive, which is why staff recommend they be phased out for use by private businesses and restricted to government property only.
Ratty real estate signs, some which sit for long periods while being poorly maintained, are also a target with a requirement they be limited to six months installation and maintain a “like-new” condition.
Don’t expect to see more animated digital signs under the new rules. Staff say there is no compelling reason to expand use of the signs, which have generally been restricted to schools and churches in the past.
Sandwich boards, a complete no-no under current rules, could now grace city sidewalks although the would only be allowed out during a business' regular hours.
The report says a move to complaint-based enforcement of the sign bylaw two years ago has resulted in a proliferation of portable signs in Kelowna and recommends a bylaw officer dedicated to enforcing the sign bylaw be hired for $86,000 a year.
Permit fees would be raised to offset the cost, the report recommends, but would still be amongst the lowest in the province.
Kelowna last year issued 271 sign permits, of which 114 where for portable signs which currently cost between $30 and $50 depending on the length.
By pushing the fees to $200 the city could possibly raise almost $70,000 and largely cover the cost of the bylaw officer and related equipment.
A citizen’s survey showed mixed reaction to the change, Ganczar says, with about equal numbers calling it too restrictive or not restrictive enough. The majority had no opinion or thought the current regulations were adequate.
Ganczar points out in her report there is no public hearing required for the change to the sign bylaw.
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