Laura George-Jurilj

No relief for Rotary Club under town’s sign bylaw

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of the Amherstburg Rotary Club are disappointed after town council did not grant them any relief from the sign bylaw.

Three members, all of whom are also on the Rotary Ribfest committee, appeared before council asking that they be allowed to have mobile signs and signs on residential and commercial properties for a 28-day period prior to their eighth annual Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9 this year. Ribfest committee chair Carl Gibb, Rotary president Laura George-Jurilj and Tony Ross appeared at Monday night’s meeting.

Currently, they can only put out signs 14 days in advance of their events and based on the lack of seconder for a motion by Councillor Leo Meloche asking for the 28-day period, those restrictions will stay in place. They are not allowed portable signs, with event signs only allowed on commercial properties.

“The Ribfest Committee is totally opposed to these regulations. They are too restrictive and they pose a problem in getting people to come to our event,” said Gibb.

Gibb said the Ribfest has not presented any problems and has brought thousands of people to Amherstburg.

“These signs that we put up are professionally made by a local business,” said Gibb. “Fourteen days is not long enough to properly advertise an event. It is a known fact that you have to pass a road sign three times to know what it actually says.”

The Rotary Club has spent “considerable money” in acquiring the signs “and now we cannot use them.” He said until last year, they have put up signs four weeks prior to the event and removed them the day after.

“Two years ago, we had 15,000 people. Last year, we had just over 10,000. Is this a result of your restrictions on our advertising? Quite likely, some of it,” said Gibb. “It is ironic that we can put up any of our signs in Harrow, Kingsville, Leamington, Cottam, Essex, Lakeshore, LaSalle and even Windsor. How many phone calls, how many complaints we’ve had? Zero.”

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Members of the Rotary Ribfest Committee, an event that operates under the umbrella of the Amherstburg Rotary Club, are disappointed with the guidelines they have to operate under to comply with the sign bylaw. Town council upheld the current sign bylaw at the March 20 meeting.

Gibb said some businesses told him they make more money in sales during the Ribfest weekend than any other summer weekend. Banners over Sandwich St. S. may not be as effective, Gibb added, as some may not drive past it.

“Why do you want to restrict residents from showing their support for our event,” he asked, “with no signs on residential property?”

Signs are also placed strategically in high traffic areas.

“You allow roofing, siding and renovation companies from out of town to advertise for weeks but we can’t do it once a year,” said Gibb. “I don’t understand your concerns.”

The committee works year-round on the event and Gibb also pointed out the investment the Rotary Club has made in Amherstburg including the Miracle League field. He said they are also planning on supplying carbon monoxide detectors to homes at little to no cost this spring to low income families

“We are presently contemplating another new project that the town desperately needs. An announcement could come shortly,” he added.

Meloche questioned only allowing two weeks for the Rotary Club to put out signs and believed they are restricting their cause. He believed it is not up to government to put such restrictions in place and the signs are “a cost effective way of advertising.”

Meloche even quoted Supreme Court of Canada cases in similar matters.

“As far as I’m concerned, we are, in effect, being restrictive,” said Meloche.

“I am totally opposed to this request,” said Councillor Diane Pouget, adding she did support the Rotary Club in general.

Pouget said they went through a sign bylaw updating process for two years, and said they would be going backwards if they started allowing amendments to it.

“I believe in keeping it the way it is,” said Pouget.

The Communities in Bloom judges that came to Amherstburg last year also commented on the “sign pollution” matter when they were here, she said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said it is “a very difficult area of the law” and that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an ever evolving area of the law.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said there were two years of discussion and public consultation on the sign bylaw and then suddenly after it passed, “all these concerns are coming up.” Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli said the bylaw passed last year dealt with off-site portable signs and the bylaw that was being enforced in the Rotary Club’s case has been on the books since 2006.

“We do help,” Councillor Rick Fryer told the Rotary members, noting money is spent to help festivals advertise. “We are trying to help festivals as much as we can.”

George-Jurilj said they “are very disappointed by council’s decision in not working with us. The fact that this law has been in place since 2006 and never enforced until 2016 goes to show it has not been a real cause for concern for many of the residents in Amherstburg.”

She added the committee spends thousands of dollars on advertising for Ribfest in Amherstburg each year.

“We pay for billboards from Windsor to Chatham, radio, TV and newspaper ads, and lawn signs that we place in all our neighbouring communities. To spend this amount of time, energy and money bringing people and venue into the town of Amherstburg is something we are happy to do. We love this town and its people,” she continued. “But when I am told I can’t put a sign on my own front lawn supporting an event and organization that has done so very much for this town, I must say its extremely frustrating to say the least.”

George-Jurilj added: “This situation coupled with a few other factors has really made us re-evaluate our event. This may be ‘a sign of the times’ for us and our future here in Amherstburg.”

 

Rotary Club says thanks to Ribfest volunteers, donates to House youth centre

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Rotary Club of Amherstburg gave thanks to those who helped during Ribfest, made a donation to a local non-profit group and also honoured one of their own.

All in one meeting.

The local Rotarians held their weekly meeting last Wednesday night at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 but that meeting was larger than normal as over 30 people attended with many having been volunteers at July’s Ribfest that was held in Centennial Park.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja (left) presents a cheque for $950 to House Youth Centre activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart last Wednesday. The proceeds came from can returns from Ribfest.

Rotary Club of Amherstburg past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja (left) presents a cheque for $950 to House Youth Centre activities co-ordinator Rebecca Vander Vaart last Wednesday. The proceeds came from can returns from Ribfest.

Past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja chaired the meeting as president Laura George-Jurilj was absent after having surgery. Mangoff-Lazanja said the event could not happen without all of the volunteers that turn out annually.

“It would not be the success that it is without all of your help,” she told the group assembled around the table.

Mangoff-Lazanja said the Ribfest is one of the largest weekend events in Amherstburg, something she is proud of. Carl Gibb, the Rotarian that heads the Ribfest committee, echoed Mangoff-Lazanja’s comments about the volunteers.

“You people are just amazing,” said Gibb. “We’d never pull it off without your help. “It is so nice to have people that are so loyal and help us out.”

Gibb said attendance was down 4,000 people “but we still made money. It’s a credit to all of you people and all of the work we did.”

The Rotary Club and its Ribfest committee thanked the volunteers that worked the event at the Rotary Club's Oct. 26 meeting. Back row (from left): Bob Pillon, Ann-Marie Favot, Cathy Thomas, Carl Gibb. Front row (from left): Tony Ross, Lena Mangoff-Lazanja, Dan Hunt and Gene Sliepenbeek. Absent are Barb Brookbanks and Rotary Club president Laura George-Jurilj.

The Rotary Club and its Ribfest committee thanked the volunteers that worked the event at the Rotary Club’s Oct. 26 meeting. Back row (from left): Bob Pillon, Ann-Marie Favot, Cathy Thomas, Carl Gibb. Front row (from left): Tony Ross, Lena Mangoff-Lazanja, Dan Hunt and Gene Sliepenbeek. Absent are Barb Brookbanks and Rotary Club president Laura George-Jurilj.

Mangoff-Lazanja read greetings from George-Jurilj, which stated: “I wish I could join you all in celebrating another successful year of Ribfest. Another year full of hard work, sacrifice, planning and dedication, not to mention time. The months, weeks and days leading up to the Ribfest and of course the weekend of the event you all gave so freely of your time – time away from friends, family and other commitments, time I know can be hard to find. I cannot begin to thank you for your time and efforts, without each one of you our event wouldn’t be the huge success it is.

“It’s amazing what can happen when people come together with a common vision and a common purpose. You have all shown the true definition of ‘Rotary at Work.’”

Gibb was also recognized, with Lazanja pointing out the work he does not only for the Ribfest but other Rotary events as well.

“There’s really no words. We really appreciate everything (Carl) does for the club,” said Mangoff-Lazanja. “Part of the reason this event has worked year after year after year is because of Carl.”

The Rotary Club presented the House youth centre with a cheque for $950 as House members helped at the Ribfest. The money came from the return of empty beer cans that were cashed in.

The club also paid tribute to Lazanja, who served as president for a total of four non-consecutive years. Gibb noted that “we’re a small club” and they appreciate Mangoff-Lazanja’s willingness to serve as president for as long as she did.

Mangoff-Lazanja was presented a metal lantern that was crafted by Hazen Price, who is also a tinsmith at the Park House Museum. The Rotary Club is a major funder of the Park House.

Rotary Club past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja admires a new lantern she received as a gift Oct. 26. It was crafted by Park House Museum tinsmith and fellow Rotarian Hazen Price.

Rotary Club past president Lena Mangoff-Lazanja admires a new lantern she received as a gift Oct. 26. It was crafted by Park House Museum tinsmith and fellow Rotarian Hazen Price.

George-Jurilj also had a message for Mangoff-Lazanja, with that message read by Gibb: “I wouldn’t be where I am today in my Rotary life if not for Lena. One because she nominated me for president, and two because she has given me her unwavering support. She has set a great example for not only the role as president, but as a true Rotarian. Her dedication, perseverance, knowledge and passion through her terms as president are something I truly admire. She has left me with some very big shoes to fill in my time as your president. But I know with her as one of my greatest cheerleaders I will be able to serve you all very well. Thank you Lena for all your service in Rotary. You have many wonderful accomplishment you should be very proud of.”

Mangoff-Lazanja praised the work of the group as a whole, stating nothing could be accomplished without the work of everyone.

“You guys made it easy for me,” she told her fellow Rotarians.

Mangoff-Lazanja added she served as president as long as she did because of her fellow Amherstburg Rotarians and the support she received from District 6400.

“It’s a family,” she said.