Mayor happy to see sign bylaw feedback

Deadline for public feedback extended to Feb. 1, 2013.

The City of Cranbrook originally set a deadline of Dec. 31 to receive feedback forms on the controversial proposed sign bylaw, but Mayor Wayne Stetski said as long as the feedback is coming in, they’re happy to have it.

Chris Zettel, corporate communications officer with the city announced Thursday that the deadline would be extended to February 1, 2013 at 4:30 p.m., to allow all parties to get their feedback in.

The mayor would like to see plenty of feedback beyond what the business community has already contributed in forms and at the open house meeting earlier this month.

“It’s really important that we get the public input, as well as the business input because Cranbrook belongs to all of us,” Stetski said.

The sign bylaw issue arose back in the spring when a local business owner came before council to ask that he be allowed to have an Electronic Changeable Copy (ECC) Sign, similar to the ones used at Western Financial Place and Mount Baker Secondary School. The city decided to open up the entire bylaw to review.

“It’s all about trying to improve the look to Cranbrook as we move into the future,” Stetski said.

An update to the 30-year-old bylaw is important as many sign types didn’t exist when it was developed, the city said during the public meeting; but Stetski said they must balance the needs of business with aesthetics by having standards.

The meeting, held December 5, was one of the most well attended meetings in the city’s history, and Stetski, who was away, is happy to see people so involved.

“It’s great to see people interested in their city, but it’s important they have accurate information,” he said.

Many business owners at the meeting expressed concern that complying to the bylaw would cost them money to get up to code. Stetski said current signs will be grandfathered into the new bylaw and be deemed legal non-conforming. He said the bylaw says that if a new business moves in, they can use the old sign infrastructure to add a new logo or sign to the existing one.

“It’s kind of crying wolf to say it’s going to be costly to business to follow the bylaw,” Stetski said.

The mayor stresses that the bulk of the bylaw is actually a series of guidelines that provides photos and suggestions of existing signage in town.

The city has received a lot of phone calls since the public meeting, not all of them opposing the new bylaw.

“The challenge is, how can we end up with a more aesthetically pleasing Cranbrook, including Highway 3?” Stetski said.

Meanwhile, the Chamber ad-hoc sign bylaw committee continues to research and collect feedback. Committee chair Jason Wheeldon said the group has met twice, once with city staff. They have gone through the bylaw paragraph by paragraph to identify areas of concern and plan to have something to present before council by the first week in February. The research is expected to be done mid-January, and the Chamber’s board will have to approve the presentation.

Wheeldon said the committee is a great mix of business owners from all areas of the community from the Strip to Baker St.

“We’ve got a lot of volunteers for our sign committee,” he said.

The city has asked the Chamber to research sign bylaws across the country as well. The committee is penning a letter to inform the city on their process as they collect their information and prepare for the presentation.

Wheeldon said the Downtown Business Association has been extremely helpful providing feedback, and comments continue to stream in to the Chamber. Feedback is welcome, and Wheeldon invites anyone to call the Chamber with their ideas on the proposed bylaw.

Copies of the bylaw are available at City Hall for anyone interested in taking a look. If you have any questions, please contact Rob Veg, Senior Planner at (250) 489-0241 or veg@cranbrook.ca.

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