Courtenay plans to update its sign bylaw in an effort to improve the rules around business signs and create better character in commercial areas.
According to a Courtenay staff report, the current sign bylaw was adopted in 1998, and since then technology has advanced allowing for new styles, products, material and lighting methods. The report noted these changes make the current bylaw hard to interpret sometimes.
“The current bylaw has several restrictions which can discourage creative shapes or materials,” stated the report. “Greater flexibility within certain areas of the city, such as downtown, may help to promote the character of the area.”
Courtenay planning technician Erin Ferguson filled council in on the process during Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Beginning next week, City staff will flag issues with the current sign bylaw, and start research such as looking at other municipalities’ bylaws. A council update is expected on Nov. 26, followed by a stakeholder meeting with groups like local sign companies, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Heritage Advisory Committee.
A draft bylaw is expected late this year or early next year, which would be followed by a public open house for feedback.
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard said she looks forward to an updated sign bylaw. But she also pointed out there could be some controversy over what’s appropriate, noting she doesn’t want the public to “feel like they’re an afterthought” in the process.
Ferguson said staff plan to hold the public meeting after the draft bylaw is prepared so that the community has something to react to.
Mayor Larry Jangula agreed the community would impacted by changes to the sign bylaw, but he pointed out businesses would be the most affected.
“The people who are the most affected by this are the businesses, and I hear from businesses all the time complaining that so-and-so has an unfair advantage or it’s costing x-number of dollars to change a sign,” he said, adding he wants to make sure businesses have a say during the stakeholder meeting.
“I agree the community’s impacted but really the businesses are the ones that pay for them — the businesses are the ones that have really brought this to our attention.”