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‘Ban the banners’ says White Rock councillor

White Rock Coun. Larry Robinson chats with Patricia Woodland in the 14900-block of Marine Tuesday, about banner signs such as the one behind him. Robinson is calling for the city to prohibit the signs altogether.  - Tracy Holmes photo
White Rock Coun. Larry Robinson chats with Patricia Woodland in the 14900-block of Marine Tuesday, about banner signs such as the one behind him. Robinson is calling for the city to prohibit the signs altogether.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

A proposal this week to amend White Rock’s sign bylaw to loosen restrictions for businesses wanting to hang banner signs has received the cold shoulder from one councillor.

Larry Robinson said the signs should simply be prohibited from the city altogether.

“Frankly, I think they’re trashy,” Robinson told council Monday, following a city staff report suggesting amendments that would enable businesses to hang more banners in a year, at less cost to them.

While Robinson planned to move that the bylaw be amended to ban the signs, the matter was deferred after Coun. Helen Fathers asked to table it until all of council was present for the discussion. Couns. Al Campbell and Grant Meyer were both absent Monday.

Robinson’s suggestion, however, did not go unopposed.

Coun. Louise Hutchinson said she would be “much more in favour” of eliminating sandwich boards, which she said pose a greater hazard than banners.

“I just don’t think they have a place in our city,” Hutchinson said.

“If Coun. Robinson is looking for a cease-and-desist on banners, I would be doing the same for sandwich boards.”

A review of the sign bylaw was triggered by complaints last fall from Marine Drive business owners and the Business Improvement Association (BIA), after a restaurateur was told a banner hanging on his business’s railing violated city rules.

While the report by Paul Stanton, director of planning and development services, said flexibility could be added to the bylaw to increase the number of banners allowed per year, Robinson spoke against incorporating any leeway.

He pressed his point further to Peace Arch News Tuesday, after noticing a loose-hanging banner outside a different Marine Drive restaurant that was tied with Christmas ribbon to a flexible lighting strip.

Noting he has found no seaside community from Bellingham to West Vancouver that allows banner signs, Robinson said he is baffled why White Rock does.

“When I looked at the sign bylaws for everything along the coast, I don’t know why we’re doing it,” he said. “We want to be a quality beach town, we have to act like a quality beach town.”

Currently, the city’s bylaw restricts banner-hanging to a maximum of 28 days, once per year, for $75. Stanton suggested the city allow up to three per year, at a cost of $25 each. He told council the suggestions stemmed from a “meeting of the minds” between city staff and the BIA.

Stanton recommended the BIA be allowed to apply for additional banner opportunities that benefit multiple businesses for up to 24 days at a time at no cost.

The city’s concern with banners, Stanton said, is “one of potential liabilities” resulting from improper installation and maintenance of signs on city property. The current permit fee, imposed in January 2011, was intended to deter the practice, he said.

Stanton added that the cities of Langley and Richmond do not permit banner signs; and Surrey only allows those used by non-profit organizations for special-event activities.

Regarding Hutchinson’s call to eliminate sandwich boards, Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted merchants lobbied successfully to maintain the right to use them.

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