South Okanagan sign cull to continue

Roadside signs near Penticton will eventually be in the regional district
Roadside signs near Penticton will eventually be in the regional district's cross-hairs after a pilot project south of Oliver.
— image credit: Western News file photo

Roadside signs will still be culled soon along a 10-kilometre stretch of Highway 97 south of Oliver, but politicians plan to move cautiously before expanding the cleanup campaign.

The signs in question, which some feel are a visual distraction, are either illegally on the highway right-of-way or don’t comply with zoning bylaws for private property.

However, some business owners have spoken out against the plan, which they fear will impair their ability to advertise to passersby.

Owners of offending signs within the project area have received letters from the B.C. Transportation Ministry and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen warning their markers will be torn down this spring.

RDOS bylaw enforcement co-ordinator Roza Aylwin said the timeline to remove the signs remains in place, although the board at its meeting Thursday asked staff to re-examine the issue at the same time.

“We’re looking at private property in a pilot area where we have a zoning bylaw with sort of a one-line signage regulation and we’re getting some feedback,” explained chief administrative officer Bill Newell.

“We’re going to look at our zoning bylaw to see if we need to make any changes to respond to those constructive criticisms.”

Any proposed bylaw changes would then trigger a public hearing.

The board also voted to have staff check out how local governments elsewhere have managed to keep a lid on signage and suggest how the same could be done here.

“If there’s a jurisdiction out there that’s got it right, I want to know about it,” said rural Oliver Director Allan Patton, who in March hosted a well-attended public meeting to discuss the sign issue.

Others have doubts about a one-size-fits-all solution.

“This is not rocket science,” said West Bench Director Michael Brydon, who urged the board to simply make a decision on signs and, “eventually, it will become the new normal.”

“I’m skeptical we’re going to find this magic piece that’s going to make this easy,” he said.

Newell also recommended against a region-wide standard.

“Unless we’re actually constructing the signs, there’s no way we’re going to impose architectural standards on the way people build signs,” he said.

“This isn’t something I recommend the board venture into.”



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