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Building, sign bylaws closer to approval

Cranbrook council had multiple readings of two bylaws Monday. Both the Sign Bylaw and the Building Bylaw will be up for adoption on Aug. 12.

Cranbrook city council had multiple readings of two mammoth bylaws Monday. Both the Sign Bylaw and the Building Bylaw will be up for adoption on Aug. 12.

Council decided to take on the task as both of the bylaws were showing their age — the building bylaw was adopted in 1987 and the current sign control bylaw was first adopted in 1977 — with numerous amendments over the years.

Council sought to change the building bylaw to limit the exposure to liability the city is exposed to when issuing building permits and building inspection notices.

Coun. Denise Pallesen was only comfortable approving the first reading of the building bylaw.

"I think we need to spend a bit more time with all the stakeholders and the (city) staff," Pallesen said. "With any bylaws that we do that are very detailed, long term and long standing, I think we need to be very careful that we have everything covered as best we can."

Roy Hales, director of corporate services, said that staff was comfortable with the bylaw as it stood, and if council felt it necessary, there could be more discussion between second and third reading as well.

"On this bylaw, legislatively, there's no requirement for any public consultation," Hales noted. "And we've had considerable (consultation)."

Coun. Sharon Cross said she supported going through the first two readings, noting that the city's liability was the main factor in her decision.

"We have met with the stakeholders and I think it's just time we get on with it," Cross said.

Coun. Diana J. Scott said it's important to have discussions and iron out the last few issues.

"It's been 26 years; what's one more month?" Scott said about the delay in adoption that passing only first reading would cause.

Mayor Wayne Stetski said the flip-side is they waited for 26 years.

"You've done what previous councils in that 26 year period didn't do," said Coun. Angus Davis. "That's a great achievement. You're in an area that you haven't been for a long, long time. The sign bylaw was just as deadly – nobody wanted to touch it."

Coun. Gerry Warner said 26 years is a long time, but at the same time council needs to be efficient, since there are a lot of issues on the plate.

Council passed the first and second reading of the building bylaw.

The sign bylaw passed the first three readings and will be up for adoption next meeting.

The Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce put forward some new concerns regarding the height of billboards and the timeframe for enforcement.

The new bylaw limits the height of billboards, which were not allowed in Cranbrook under the current bylaw, to 7.5 metres, though allows standing billboards to be grandfathered in.

Coun. Pallesen worried that that part of the bylaw could be interpreted to not allow sign owners the leeway to fix broken signs, since they may fear that modifying it could lead to it no longer meeting requirements.

Director Hales said that as long as the structure stands at, for instance, 10 metres, and remains used, it will be allowed.

"If it was 13 metres... if it was 20 metres, it would still be allowed to stand and new sign copy could be put on it, it's just if a new billboard sign is constructed... the new structure sign would have to be built no higher than 7.5 metres," Hales said.

Council added an amendment for timelines of enforcement on abandoned and unused signs and then passed third reading.