sign bylaw

Council allows sign bylaw exemption and encroachment agreement for local business



By Ron Giofu


Town council has agreed to allow a local business to encroachment on town land and has granted a sign bylaw exemption.

John Collison from Woodland Home Renovations & Additions appeared before town council requesting that he be allowed to place a seven-foot by five-foot sign in front of his Sandwich St. N. business. He told council that if it were to be pushed back towards the building, people would not be able to see it.

Currently, he shares a sign with Riccardo’s Italian Restaurant but said people looking for his business sometimes go to the restaurant.

“My business is the residence,” he said.

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Councillor Rick Fryer said he was concerned about sight lines for drivers at the corner of Sandwich St. N. and St. Arnaud St. and the possibility of creating a blind spot for drivers and cyclists. Manager of licensing and enforcing Nicole Rubli said the town would work with the applicant on the sign to ensure such issues don’t arise.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she sits on both the parks committee and Communities in Bloom committees and both are “very concerned” about the application.

“They want to make sure we are following the rules we set forth,” said Pouget.

Councillor Joan Courtney worried that the town was setting a precedent by granting the request.

“If we grant this request, I think others will follow,” said Courtney, adding that council has to be cognizant of the bylaw.

Collison said he is in an area where he has all commercial units on that side of the street. He didn’t believe he would be standing out more than anyone else in the area. He added he is zoned similar to the other businesses in the stretch of road.

The motion to grant the sign bylaw exemption and encroachment agreement passed in a 6-1 recorded vote with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Fryer, Courtney, Jason Lavigne and Leo Meloche being in favour while Pouget was opposed.

Councillor questions process in putting up Belle Vue signage



By Ron Giofu


The recently-installed sign at the Amherstburg library promoting the Belle Vue Conservancy’s fundraising request has drawn questions from a member of council.

Councillor Leo Meloche brought up the issue during the March 20 town council meeting and questioned the process of how the sign was installed.

“The Belle Vue Conservancy is an independent, non-profit organization that should have had to go through the process to have the sign put up,” said Meloche.

Meloche stated he was not opposed to the sign itself, and added he has participated in the fundraising process with a donation. What he questioned was how the decision was arrived at to erect the sign and didn’t believe the method used to put it up complied with what is written in the bylaw.

“I’m looking for fairness in the process,” said Meloche.

CAO John Miceli said the Belle Vue Conservancy is fundraising on behalf of the town of Amherstburg for a town-owned building, adding the municipality is exempt from its own bylaw.

“The long and the short of it is, the Belle Vue Conservancy is raising money for town property,” Miceli said.

Miceli said town council had the option of having the sign removed and having the conservancy go through the process, but no further direction was given.

A sign promoting the Belle Vue Conservancy’s campaign on the Amherstburg library’s property at Richmond St. and Sandwich St. S. was a cause for concern at the most recent regular meeting of town council. The process to put it up was of particular concern.

A sign promoting the Belle Vue Conservancy’s campaign on the Amherstburg library’s property at Richmond St. and Sandwich St. S. was a cause for concern at the most recent regular meeting of town council. The process to put it up was of particular concern.

Meloche wondered if another non-profit agency wanted to do something like put up a swing-set in a park, would they be afforded the same privilege for a sign since that is for public benefit like the Belle Vue property restorations.

The debate on the Belle Vue sign came a short time after the Amherstburg Rotary Club was refused relief to the sign bylaw to promote Ribfest, which is scheduled for July 7-9. The Rotary Club wanted to have the ability to put up their signs for 28 days and be allowed to put up mobile road signs and wire push-in signs during that period on commercial and residential properties but the town will stick with its 14-day limit with no portable signs and event signs only allowed in front of commercial property.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has come to council, with the town agreeing, to partner with them on fundraising initiatives, Miceli added. He said the Ribfest was different in the sense that the town doesn’t dictate where the money goes whereas they do dictate where the $1 million they are trying to raise for Belle Vue will go.

“I think the argument is a little bit different,” said Miceli. “Even with non-profit groups, we don’t dictate where the funds go.”

Miceli pointed out the town holds the money collected by the Belle Vue Conservancy, something confirmed by director of corporate services/treasurer Justin Rousseau. Rousseau noted that the money is held by the Amherstburg Community Foundation, the charitable arm of the town.

The benefit of what the Belle Vue Conservancy and their fundraising efforts were not something Meloche said he had any argument with but noted he didn’t want the town to be seen as acting unfairly.

“I want us perceived as fair to every organization in town and every individual in this town,” said Meloche.

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.”


Off-site portable signs banned


By Jonathan Martin

In a 6-1 vote, Amherstburg town council has amended the by-law governing the erection of signs within the municipality.

Councillor Leo Meloche was opposed to the amendment.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, portable signs will only be permitted on the property for which they are advertising.

The amendment defines a portable sign as “any sign which is not permanently affixed to the ground, building or structure and which is designed with or without wheels, so as to facilitate its movement from place to place.”

Any off-site portable sign could be found to be in violation of the amended by-law and therefore become the subject of a fine.

According to Amherstburg councillor Diane Pouget, the town’s licensing director will contact the province to discuss applicable fees.

Discussions about the amendment started around three years ago.

Town hall signWEB

“Three years ago, 75 per cent of (signs in Amherstburg) were found to be in non-compliance with the bylaw,” said Pouget. “Some of them were blocking (drivers’) views of pedestrians.”

Concerns were raised by a Harrow-based business owner who owns property in Amherstburg. Once the bylaw comes into effect he will no longer be permitted to place a sign on his Amherstburg property. He said he believes the by-law will hurt local businesses by limiting their advertising.

“We’ve been working on this for two-and-a-half years,” Pouget said. “We’ve held public meetings and done everything right. I believe bringing this up at the last moment was very unfair to administration.”

Puget added that notices will be delivered to the owners of violating signs before any sort of fine is administered.

Application for ground billboards stalled as council awaits sign bylaw



By Ron Giofu


A request to have ground billboards installed in Amherstburg has been stalled as the town awaits its updated sign bylaw.

David McLarty of DB Media came before council at its most recent regular meeting seeking permission to install six billboards within the town, four of which would be in farmer’s fields. He said his company has done business in other municipalities in Essex County and is looking to bring his business into Amherstburg.

“We want to get into the fields before farmers get to work,” McLarty told town council.

Manager of licensing and enforcement Nicole Rubli told town council there is no current provision in the town’s sign bylaw that would allow for billboards but council has the authority to provide an exemption.

Councillor Diane Pouget said the previous council was “very, very concerned” with the amount of offsite signage that is already in town and wanted to know why an updated sign bylaw still hasn’t been before council.

“This sign bylaw has been in the works for over two years,” she said.

A ground billboard stands along Walker Road, on the Essex side. A request to install similar style  signage in Amherstburg did not move forward at the most recent meeting of council as town council members await the new sign bylaw.

A ground billboard stands along Walker Road, on the Essex side. A request to install similar style
signage in Amherstburg did not move forward at the most recent meeting of council as town council members await the new sign bylaw.

Pouget called it “absolutely ludicrous” that a meeting has been held with stakeholders and not with the general public.

Rubli noted that many consultations have gone into the bylaw including with provincial agencies.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he would like to see signage centralized, suggesting LED signage either at town hall or near the library. Signage seen throughout town “doesn’t make the town look very good at all,” he believed.

Pouget urged council not to provide an exemption for McLarty’s request until a new sign bylaw is before council and public input is allowed for. A time frame of six months to one year was provided before council is expected to see an updated sign bylaw.

McLarty’s delegation was simply received by council.

A motion asking administration bring back a report on ground billboards was defeated. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Fryer and Leo Meloche were in favour with Mayor Aldo DiCarlo and councillors Pouget and Jason Lavigne opposed. Procedurally, the motion was lost on a tie vote.

Councillor Joan Courtney was absent from the meeting.