By Vanessa Broadbent
Business owners in Harrison are once again facing changes in the bylaw regarding signage in front of their businesses.
At their Monday meeting, council adopted an amendment to their current sign bylaw which states that “sandwich board signs are prohibited on municipal property, including sidewalks, civic plaza, boulevards, streets, parking areas, parking stalls, public parks and beach areas.”
Previous to the amendment, the bylaw allowed business owners to display sandwich boards, as long as they were within 300 metres of their property and not “placed in a manner that is a nuisance to or impede vehicle or pedestrian traffic or is a safety hazard.”
Discussion regarding the bylaw change began last year when the amendment was first proposed to Council at the February 16 meeting. After recommendations were made by the Chamber of Commerce and local business owners, the bylaw was sent back to council for the March 2 meeting. Council sent out letters outlining the changes, which sparked a large amount of feedback from business owners who felt that the use of the signage increases their business. At their March 16 meeting, council decided to postpone the discussion and further review the bylaw.
“It’s been on the discussion table for quite some time,” said Harrison Hot Springs mayor Leo Facio.
“The final decision is what was passed last night, that businesses are allowed to put the signage on their own property but not on village property.”
Council had initially considered having different regulations for Esplanade Ave. and Lillooet Ave. but decided to have the same bylaw in place for both streets.
“There was several discussions regarding this last year, going through how we were going to deal with it,” Facio explained. “Eventually, they came to consensus that it is best to deal with everybody the same way rather than having one street different to the other. This way everyone is treated the same.”
While the purpose of this bylaw is to create a safer environment for pedestrians in the area, not all business owners see this as a positive thing. Some, such as John Kim, owner of Village Pizzeria, find that using sandwich boards increases business.
“It helps a lot,” he said. “We’re not on the lakeside [or] on the main road, we’re one block behind.”
Mike Ronen, owner of The Hungry Chef Eatery on Lillooet Ave. has also found that the sandwich boards help bring in new customers.
“We have signage down the side by the hotel down by the corner,” he said. “People say ‘we saw your sign so we came over.”
Despite the benefits for business owners, Facio, along with Council, found that the amount of sandwich boards was becoming overwhelming.
“The sandwich boards were taking over the sidewalks and it was cluttering up all the sidewalks,” he said. “If [business owners] want to attach them to their buildings or put them on their own property, then the sidewalks are left clear of any obstruction.”
Although the bylaw is already in effect since its approval on Monday, a letter will be sent out to business owners notifying them of the change.
“They’re receiving a letter to inform them that the bylaw has passed now and that they will have to if they want to put their sandwich boards out, they will have to be on their own property, not on village property,” Facio said.