A variance has been granted to allow a large, illuminated sign near Oliver, even though the sign significantly exceeds the bylaw in place for this area of the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.
The sign, at the new Nature’s Basket at 5535 Hwy. 97, is already in place.
The applicant asked to increase the maximum number of signs from one to five, to increase the maximum sign area from three square metres to 41.21 square metres and to increase the maximum sign height from three metres to 6.71 metres.
“We cannot properly advertise our business to the same extent as our surrounding competitive businesses,” Gurmeet Singh Chahal said in a letter to the regional district. “The bylaw limits our ability to property advertise our business to our prospective customers.”
The signs, already installed at the building, include three fascia signs of 10.02 square metres each, one illuminated digital reader board sign measuring 2.23 square metres and one non-illuminated sign measuring 8.92 square metres.
Under the regional district’s zoning bylaw, signs advertising the sale of agricultural products are limited to one non-illuminated sign, up to three square metres in area and three square metres in height.
The sign regulations have been examined in the past. In 2014 and 2015, the regional district had considered increasing the sign area from three to six square metres, but this project was abandoned by the board.
In her report, JoAnn Peachey, a planner with the regional district, said the number and size of signs in the area far exceeds the regulations for farm stand uses.
The proposal also exceeds the limits of the bylaw for commercial uses in the area.
“If approved, this proposed signage would raise expectations for other uses (or users) to be afforded the same quantity of signage in an agricultural area,” she said.
Regional district directors and staff raised their concerns with the sign.
Rick Knodel, director for Electoral Area C, Oliver rural, said there are similar signs in place at other businesses in the area.
Karla Kozakevich, chair of the regional district board, wants to revisit the bylaw governing signs.
“Our signage bylaw needs to be worked on and brought back here,” she said.
“It’s time to have a look at the bylaw,” added Petra Veintimilla, a director from Oliver.
Brad Dollevoet, general manager of planning services, suggested the issue is in enforcing the regulations rather than reworking the bylaw.
“Changing the bylaw won’t address the enforcement issue,” he said.
Jake Kimberley, a director from Penticton, said a bylaw governing signage must be enforceable.
“Be careful of what you put forward,” he said.