Signs of the times

News Sep 27, 2007 Flamborough Review

With the City of Hamilton's new sign bylaw now in effect, local mobile sign rental and manufacturing businesses are feeling tense because of the revamped rules and regulations.

The sign bylaw was originally revised to reduce the proliferation of mobile signs and eliminate confusion about sign regulations. The amended bylaw replaces the individual sign bylaws governing Flamborough, Dundas, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek, Ancaster and Hamilton.

John Woods and his son Bill run their mobile sign manufacturing business, Portable Sign Guy, out of Waterdown. The company provides letters and other mobile sign products to their clients, including mobile sign rental companies. Since the implementation of the new sign bylaw in February, John Woods has observed a decrease in demand for mobile sign letters. As Portable Sign Guy works alongside mobile rental companies, if the demand for rental signs decreases, the need for lettering also decreases, affecting the company's revenue.

According to the City of Hamilton Bylaw 06-243, "This bylaw shall regulate the location, size, number, construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of all signs and advertising devices within the geographical boundaries of the City of Hamilton," which includes Flamborough.

The need for a revision in the sign bylaw was driven by council "because of the proliferation of signs that were unregulated and based on a public outcry," noted Ward 15 Councillor Margaret McCarthy, who described the abundance of signs in the community as "sign pollution."

According to Dan Mousseau, Sign Bylaw Coordinator for the City of Hamilton, the city's intent was to consolidate and develop a new bylaw for the whole city following amalgamation in 2001.

The bylaw document states the intent is to "provide reasonable and appropriate means for the public to locate and identify facilities, businesses and services without difficulty or confusion."

"When there were signs everywhere, it was visually impairing," said McCarthy. "No one could pay attention to anything."

Although Woods understands the need for control, he questions the city's power on implementing such stringent rules.

A company representative for All Ontario Sign Rentals, a mobile sign rental company based out of Stoney Creek, said she wants to see a fair bylaw for all affected parties.

"We do acknowledge the need to set boundaries, but these ones are too restrictive," she noted.

Both Portable Sign Guy and All Ontario Sign Rentals are appealing some of the bylaw's guidelines regarding mobile signage. According to Mousseau, an application to review certain sections of the bylaw has been brought forth to the courts.

Currently, permits must be granted to mobile sign renters in order for a sign to be erected. The permit for a mobile sign, according to the bylaw, will only be valid for a period of 14 or 28 consecutive days. Permit fees apply for each.

According to the bylaw's fee schedule, a mobile sign permit for a 14-day period will cost business owners $65, while a permit valid for 28 days costs $100. If a permit isn't acquired before the sign is erected, the bylaw's fee schedule states that a fee of $970 will be charged.

"They are putting a really strict time limit on us," noted the All Ontario Sign Rentals company representative. While she explained that the city is trying to "promote business in Hamilton," she believes the bylaw deters businesses from being able to advertise their company or products.

"Advertising is the main thing for any business," the representative added.

Zoning restrictions, placement of the sign and its dimension must meet the city's mobile sign requisites. The bylaw states that no mobile sign's height can surpass 2.7 metres; a sign cannot be erected, located or displayed within 15 metres of an intersection, traffic signal or traffic control device; nor can it be located three metres from a driveway line or three metres from a side property line; it must be located a metre and a half from a street line.

According to Woods, if a sign does not meet the bylaw requisites, a municipal bylaw officer will alert the company by issuing a written warning and placing it on the mobile sign.

Two bylaw enforcement officers are dedicated to signage in Hamilton and three others have been hired to provide additional enforcement.

Mousseau explained that the bylaw enforcement officers respond to complaints regarding various signs throughout Hamilton and "also do proactive enforcement," meaning the officers watch for illegal signs as they patrol various areas of the city.

Mousseau noted that if a sign does not comply with the bylaw, an officer will advise the business owner or the person renting the sign that their sign is illegal.

"We try to talk to the sign owner, we explain why it doesn't comply with the bylaw and ask if they can bring it into compliance," he said.

A notice of compliance indicates the number of hours or days the individual has to bring their sign in line with the bylaw. If the owner makes no effort to comply, the sign will be removed from the property and the owner will be charged a storage fee of $50 per day per sign.

"The city imposed a regulation that protects against unregulated sign proliferation and allows the businesses to rightly have the exposure that they need," said McCarthy, adding that the city's strategy is to "visually protect the community so that it is not so overwhelming."

But this harmonized bylaw doesn't please all business owners, noted Woods. He predicts that his business's lost income from a year under this new bylaw will be $1 million, but the money isn't his main concern.

"It's the principle," he exclaimed.

The bylaw has also resulted in decreased activity at All Ontario Sign Rentals. "They give us a license to operate, but we can only work part-time," charged the company representative. "If your business is trying to run a business, you should be able to run your business on a full-time basis."

According to McCarthy, 14 public meetings were held throughout Hamilton, including two in Flamborough. These meetings, she explained, were scheduled to encourage businesses, organizations and various interest groups to voice their concerns and recommendations before the bylaw was made effective. An official public meeting in August 2006 was held to present and discuss a draft of the bylaw.

Mousseau said the draft process resulted in consultations with different businesses and organizations such as the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Board. He explained that the city's aim was to create a level playing field for everyone. The city also hired a consultant from Toronto to conduct a signage study. The consultant's report was presented to council in 2005 and again in 2006.

Waterdown Business Improvement Area (BIA) Chair Margaret Robertson explained in a recent interview that she has not yet heard any complaints regarding the bylaw. "I think, to be honest with you, they have done a very thorough job," she said. "They had many meetings throughout the municipalities that were open to the public."

In July 2006, All Ontario Sign Rentals was present at one of the public meetings. "There weren't too many people that showed up," noted the company representative; Mousseau countered that those held in the rural areas of Hamilton were well attended.

Since six different regions were operating under their own sign bylaws, some communities were - while others weren't - implementing signage regulations. McCarthy believes that the bylaw took so long to implement because much deliberation was required.

The city met with the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee to discuss the proposed harmonized bylaw.

"The rural areas were taken into consideration...people from those communities came and talked to us, we got feedback from the rural communities that circle around Hamilton," said Mousseau.

"It's not just one size fits all - it's adaptive to the cultural needs of the community," McCarthy explained.

Effective February 2008, sign owners and renters can anticipate changes to the copy and message board of all mobile signs. Colour restrictions indicate that mobile sign lettering must be black on white, or white on black. One line of letters or numbers can be a single colour other than black or white and graphics or logos totaling up to 10 per cent of the sign area may be any colour or combination of colours."

The extensive bylaw, just under 40 pages in length, is available on the City of Hamilton website and a shorter, bullet point fact sheet regarding the bylaw was also made available to the public.

What is frustrating to Robertson, owner of Pause Awhile Tea Room, is that businesses have not "really been notified as to what the new bylaws actually are." Business owners looking for specifics must do the legwork to procure the bylaw document themselves, she noted, adding that she believes many individuals aren't aware that a new sign bylaw has been enforced for the entire Hamilton region, and are therefore "carrying on as usual."

The Waterdown BIA notified its members of the new bylaw and encourages local merchants to obtain a copy of the bylaw by searching New Sign By-law on the City of Hamilton website (www.myhamilton.ca).

Signs of the times

News Sep 27, 2007 Flamborough Review

With the City of Hamilton's new sign bylaw now in effect, local mobile sign rental and manufacturing businesses are feeling tense because of the revamped rules and regulations.

The sign bylaw was originally revised to reduce the proliferation of mobile signs and eliminate confusion about sign regulations. The amended bylaw replaces the individual sign bylaws governing Flamborough, Dundas, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek, Ancaster and Hamilton.

John Woods and his son Bill run their mobile sign manufacturing business, Portable Sign Guy, out of Waterdown. The company provides letters and other mobile sign products to their clients, including mobile sign rental companies. Since the implementation of the new sign bylaw in February, John Woods has observed a decrease in demand for mobile sign letters. As Portable Sign Guy works alongside mobile rental companies, if the demand for rental signs decreases, the need for lettering also decreases, affecting the company's revenue.

According to the City of Hamilton Bylaw 06-243, "This bylaw shall regulate the location, size, number, construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of all signs and advertising devices within the geographical boundaries of the City of Hamilton," which includes Flamborough.

The need for a revision in the sign bylaw was driven by council "because of the proliferation of signs that were unregulated and based on a public outcry," noted Ward 15 Councillor Margaret McCarthy, who described the abundance of signs in the community as "sign pollution."

According to Dan Mousseau, Sign Bylaw Coordinator for the City of Hamilton, the city's intent was to consolidate and develop a new bylaw for the whole city following amalgamation in 2001.

The bylaw document states the intent is to "provide reasonable and appropriate means for the public to locate and identify facilities, businesses and services without difficulty or confusion."

"When there were signs everywhere, it was visually impairing," said McCarthy. "No one could pay attention to anything."

Although Woods understands the need for control, he questions the city's power on implementing such stringent rules.

A company representative for All Ontario Sign Rentals, a mobile sign rental company based out of Stoney Creek, said she wants to see a fair bylaw for all affected parties.

"We do acknowledge the need to set boundaries, but these ones are too restrictive," she noted.

Both Portable Sign Guy and All Ontario Sign Rentals are appealing some of the bylaw's guidelines regarding mobile signage. According to Mousseau, an application to review certain sections of the bylaw has been brought forth to the courts.

Currently, permits must be granted to mobile sign renters in order for a sign to be erected. The permit for a mobile sign, according to the bylaw, will only be valid for a period of 14 or 28 consecutive days. Permit fees apply for each.

According to the bylaw's fee schedule, a mobile sign permit for a 14-day period will cost business owners $65, while a permit valid for 28 days costs $100. If a permit isn't acquired before the sign is erected, the bylaw's fee schedule states that a fee of $970 will be charged.

"They are putting a really strict time limit on us," noted the All Ontario Sign Rentals company representative. While she explained that the city is trying to "promote business in Hamilton," she believes the bylaw deters businesses from being able to advertise their company or products.

"Advertising is the main thing for any business," the representative added.

Zoning restrictions, placement of the sign and its dimension must meet the city's mobile sign requisites. The bylaw states that no mobile sign's height can surpass 2.7 metres; a sign cannot be erected, located or displayed within 15 metres of an intersection, traffic signal or traffic control device; nor can it be located three metres from a driveway line or three metres from a side property line; it must be located a metre and a half from a street line.

According to Woods, if a sign does not meet the bylaw requisites, a municipal bylaw officer will alert the company by issuing a written warning and placing it on the mobile sign.

Two bylaw enforcement officers are dedicated to signage in Hamilton and three others have been hired to provide additional enforcement.

Mousseau explained that the bylaw enforcement officers respond to complaints regarding various signs throughout Hamilton and "also do proactive enforcement," meaning the officers watch for illegal signs as they patrol various areas of the city.

Mousseau noted that if a sign does not comply with the bylaw, an officer will advise the business owner or the person renting the sign that their sign is illegal.

"We try to talk to the sign owner, we explain why it doesn't comply with the bylaw and ask if they can bring it into compliance," he said.

A notice of compliance indicates the number of hours or days the individual has to bring their sign in line with the bylaw. If the owner makes no effort to comply, the sign will be removed from the property and the owner will be charged a storage fee of $50 per day per sign.

"The city imposed a regulation that protects against unregulated sign proliferation and allows the businesses to rightly have the exposure that they need," said McCarthy, adding that the city's strategy is to "visually protect the community so that it is not so overwhelming."

But this harmonized bylaw doesn't please all business owners, noted Woods. He predicts that his business's lost income from a year under this new bylaw will be $1 million, but the money isn't his main concern.

"It's the principle," he exclaimed.

The bylaw has also resulted in decreased activity at All Ontario Sign Rentals. "They give us a license to operate, but we can only work part-time," charged the company representative. "If your business is trying to run a business, you should be able to run your business on a full-time basis."

According to McCarthy, 14 public meetings were held throughout Hamilton, including two in Flamborough. These meetings, she explained, were scheduled to encourage businesses, organizations and various interest groups to voice their concerns and recommendations before the bylaw was made effective. An official public meeting in August 2006 was held to present and discuss a draft of the bylaw.

Mousseau said the draft process resulted in consultations with different businesses and organizations such as the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Board. He explained that the city's aim was to create a level playing field for everyone. The city also hired a consultant from Toronto to conduct a signage study. The consultant's report was presented to council in 2005 and again in 2006.

Waterdown Business Improvement Area (BIA) Chair Margaret Robertson explained in a recent interview that she has not yet heard any complaints regarding the bylaw. "I think, to be honest with you, they have done a very thorough job," she said. "They had many meetings throughout the municipalities that were open to the public."

In July 2006, All Ontario Sign Rentals was present at one of the public meetings. "There weren't too many people that showed up," noted the company representative; Mousseau countered that those held in the rural areas of Hamilton were well attended.

Since six different regions were operating under their own sign bylaws, some communities were - while others weren't - implementing signage regulations. McCarthy believes that the bylaw took so long to implement because much deliberation was required.

The city met with the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee to discuss the proposed harmonized bylaw.

"The rural areas were taken into consideration...people from those communities came and talked to us, we got feedback from the rural communities that circle around Hamilton," said Mousseau.

"It's not just one size fits all - it's adaptive to the cultural needs of the community," McCarthy explained.

Effective February 2008, sign owners and renters can anticipate changes to the copy and message board of all mobile signs. Colour restrictions indicate that mobile sign lettering must be black on white, or white on black. One line of letters or numbers can be a single colour other than black or white and graphics or logos totaling up to 10 per cent of the sign area may be any colour or combination of colours."

The extensive bylaw, just under 40 pages in length, is available on the City of Hamilton website and a shorter, bullet point fact sheet regarding the bylaw was also made available to the public.

What is frustrating to Robertson, owner of Pause Awhile Tea Room, is that businesses have not "really been notified as to what the new bylaws actually are." Business owners looking for specifics must do the legwork to procure the bylaw document themselves, she noted, adding that she believes many individuals aren't aware that a new sign bylaw has been enforced for the entire Hamilton region, and are therefore "carrying on as usual."

The Waterdown BIA notified its members of the new bylaw and encourages local merchants to obtain a copy of the bylaw by searching New Sign By-law on the City of Hamilton website (www.myhamilton.ca).

Signs of the times

News Sep 27, 2007 Flamborough Review

With the City of Hamilton's new sign bylaw now in effect, local mobile sign rental and manufacturing businesses are feeling tense because of the revamped rules and regulations.

The sign bylaw was originally revised to reduce the proliferation of mobile signs and eliminate confusion about sign regulations. The amended bylaw replaces the individual sign bylaws governing Flamborough, Dundas, Glanbrook, Stoney Creek, Ancaster and Hamilton.

John Woods and his son Bill run their mobile sign manufacturing business, Portable Sign Guy, out of Waterdown. The company provides letters and other mobile sign products to their clients, including mobile sign rental companies. Since the implementation of the new sign bylaw in February, John Woods has observed a decrease in demand for mobile sign letters. As Portable Sign Guy works alongside mobile rental companies, if the demand for rental signs decreases, the need for lettering also decreases, affecting the company's revenue.

According to the City of Hamilton Bylaw 06-243, "This bylaw shall regulate the location, size, number, construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of all signs and advertising devices within the geographical boundaries of the City of Hamilton," which includes Flamborough.

The need for a revision in the sign bylaw was driven by council "because of the proliferation of signs that were unregulated and based on a public outcry," noted Ward 15 Councillor Margaret McCarthy, who described the abundance of signs in the community as "sign pollution."

According to Dan Mousseau, Sign Bylaw Coordinator for the City of Hamilton, the city's intent was to consolidate and develop a new bylaw for the whole city following amalgamation in 2001.

The bylaw document states the intent is to "provide reasonable and appropriate means for the public to locate and identify facilities, businesses and services without difficulty or confusion."

"When there were signs everywhere, it was visually impairing," said McCarthy. "No one could pay attention to anything."

Although Woods understands the need for control, he questions the city's power on implementing such stringent rules.

A company representative for All Ontario Sign Rentals, a mobile sign rental company based out of Stoney Creek, said she wants to see a fair bylaw for all affected parties.

"We do acknowledge the need to set boundaries, but these ones are too restrictive," she noted.

Both Portable Sign Guy and All Ontario Sign Rentals are appealing some of the bylaw's guidelines regarding mobile signage. According to Mousseau, an application to review certain sections of the bylaw has been brought forth to the courts.

Currently, permits must be granted to mobile sign renters in order for a sign to be erected. The permit for a mobile sign, according to the bylaw, will only be valid for a period of 14 or 28 consecutive days. Permit fees apply for each.

According to the bylaw's fee schedule, a mobile sign permit for a 14-day period will cost business owners $65, while a permit valid for 28 days costs $100. If a permit isn't acquired before the sign is erected, the bylaw's fee schedule states that a fee of $970 will be charged.

"They are putting a really strict time limit on us," noted the All Ontario Sign Rentals company representative. While she explained that the city is trying to "promote business in Hamilton," she believes the bylaw deters businesses from being able to advertise their company or products.

"Advertising is the main thing for any business," the representative added.

Zoning restrictions, placement of the sign and its dimension must meet the city's mobile sign requisites. The bylaw states that no mobile sign's height can surpass 2.7 metres; a sign cannot be erected, located or displayed within 15 metres of an intersection, traffic signal or traffic control device; nor can it be located three metres from a driveway line or three metres from a side property line; it must be located a metre and a half from a street line.

According to Woods, if a sign does not meet the bylaw requisites, a municipal bylaw officer will alert the company by issuing a written warning and placing it on the mobile sign.

Two bylaw enforcement officers are dedicated to signage in Hamilton and three others have been hired to provide additional enforcement.

Mousseau explained that the bylaw enforcement officers respond to complaints regarding various signs throughout Hamilton and "also do proactive enforcement," meaning the officers watch for illegal signs as they patrol various areas of the city.

Mousseau noted that if a sign does not comply with the bylaw, an officer will advise the business owner or the person renting the sign that their sign is illegal.

"We try to talk to the sign owner, we explain why it doesn't comply with the bylaw and ask if they can bring it into compliance," he said.

A notice of compliance indicates the number of hours or days the individual has to bring their sign in line with the bylaw. If the owner makes no effort to comply, the sign will be removed from the property and the owner will be charged a storage fee of $50 per day per sign.

"The city imposed a regulation that protects against unregulated sign proliferation and allows the businesses to rightly have the exposure that they need," said McCarthy, adding that the city's strategy is to "visually protect the community so that it is not so overwhelming."

But this harmonized bylaw doesn't please all business owners, noted Woods. He predicts that his business's lost income from a year under this new bylaw will be $1 million, but the money isn't his main concern.

"It's the principle," he exclaimed.

The bylaw has also resulted in decreased activity at All Ontario Sign Rentals. "They give us a license to operate, but we can only work part-time," charged the company representative. "If your business is trying to run a business, you should be able to run your business on a full-time basis."

According to McCarthy, 14 public meetings were held throughout Hamilton, including two in Flamborough. These meetings, she explained, were scheduled to encourage businesses, organizations and various interest groups to voice their concerns and recommendations before the bylaw was made effective. An official public meeting in August 2006 was held to present and discuss a draft of the bylaw.

Mousseau said the draft process resulted in consultations with different businesses and organizations such as the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Board. He explained that the city's aim was to create a level playing field for everyone. The city also hired a consultant from Toronto to conduct a signage study. The consultant's report was presented to council in 2005 and again in 2006.

Waterdown Business Improvement Area (BIA) Chair Margaret Robertson explained in a recent interview that she has not yet heard any complaints regarding the bylaw. "I think, to be honest with you, they have done a very thorough job," she said. "They had many meetings throughout the municipalities that were open to the public."

In July 2006, All Ontario Sign Rentals was present at one of the public meetings. "There weren't too many people that showed up," noted the company representative; Mousseau countered that those held in the rural areas of Hamilton were well attended.

Since six different regions were operating under their own sign bylaws, some communities were - while others weren't - implementing signage regulations. McCarthy believes that the bylaw took so long to implement because much deliberation was required.

The city met with the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee to discuss the proposed harmonized bylaw.

"The rural areas were taken into consideration...people from those communities came and talked to us, we got feedback from the rural communities that circle around Hamilton," said Mousseau.

"It's not just one size fits all - it's adaptive to the cultural needs of the community," McCarthy explained.

Effective February 2008, sign owners and renters can anticipate changes to the copy and message board of all mobile signs. Colour restrictions indicate that mobile sign lettering must be black on white, or white on black. One line of letters or numbers can be a single colour other than black or white and graphics or logos totaling up to 10 per cent of the sign area may be any colour or combination of colours."

The extensive bylaw, just under 40 pages in length, is available on the City of Hamilton website and a shorter, bullet point fact sheet regarding the bylaw was also made available to the public.

What is frustrating to Robertson, owner of Pause Awhile Tea Room, is that businesses have not "really been notified as to what the new bylaws actually are." Business owners looking for specifics must do the legwork to procure the bylaw document themselves, she noted, adding that she believes many individuals aren't aware that a new sign bylaw has been enforced for the entire Hamilton region, and are therefore "carrying on as usual."

The Waterdown BIA notified its members of the new bylaw and encourages local merchants to obtain a copy of the bylaw by searching New Sign By-law on the City of Hamilton website (www.myhamilton.ca).