Municipalities need first say on county road commercial signs: Byvelds

The United Counties of SD&G administration building at 26 Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – The mayor of South Dundas says lower-tier municipalities need to have first say on signs along county roads, a county council committee heard Wednesday.

The county is looking at putting more controls on electronic signs after complaints about a previously approved a bright, animated sign in South Dundas.

The Committee of the Whole heard Wednesday about the proposed bylaw changes, which would include making sure messages stayed static or at least 30 seconds and that video animation would be outlawed.

The bylaw would also deal with “direct or indirect glare” that may interfere with drivers, but Director of Transportation Ben de Haan admits policing that could be difficult. The biggest point would be that lower-tier municipalities would get to weigh in before the county approves a sign bylaw.

Coun. Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) says this whole discussion is over one sign that “sticks out in the middle of nowhere” and “seems like it’s out of place.” Byvelds says it’s generated a lot of complaints from local residents.

The LED digital sign for the South Dundas Waterfront Development Corporation is on County Road 2, east of Iroquois.

Byvelds strongly suggested that the local municipality be the “dominant” force is approving sign permits.

“Our concern is zoning. Our concern is the impact on the residents or the area involved. And if it’s a structure, there’s building code issues to deal with. The current sign that’s out there should have had a building permit. It doesn’t meet our zoning bylaw…so there’s a lot of issues that could have been resolved before it got to the counties. But since the counties approved it, the owners have claimed that we can do what we want,” Byvelds said.

“Most signs, means nothing. Most applicants are honest people, everything’s great. That five per cent is going to give you headaches and this is one of them,” he said.

The South Dundas mayor believes the situation is only going to get worse in the winter when the light is reflecting off the snow.

Transportation Director Ben de Haan understood Byveld’s concern and said that the county usually approved the signs because most didn’t “trigger some type of permit locally.”

Coun. Kirsten Gardner (South Dundas) added that if the approval process isn’t reversed, the bylaw needs to at least address signs near residential areas.

Coun. Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) was concerned retroactively for no animation could penalize existing signs and could “take the flavour out of some of those signs” that have generated no complaints.

The last time the county sign bylaw was updated in February 2014.

A draft bylaw with the new provisions will come to a future council meeting.