“It’s a kick to the gut with a steel-toed boot.”
That’s how business owner Connie Cawley describes a letter she recently received from the city.
She and her husband Dwaine have been served notice that a sign advertising their business, D & T Rebuilders, must be taken down and non-compliance may result in fines and/or impoundment of their sign.
The sign is one of four along Highway 19 near the corner of Barge Terminal Road, across from Duncan Bay Road.
Cawley said her sign, as well as signs for ABC Recycling, Flurer Smokery and Schnitzer Steel Corporation serve as guides to direct customers to their facilities which are located off the highway.
Kelly Flurer, who owns Flurer Smokery with her husband Brian, said they have the misfortune of being on a street called Menzies Way, which customers often mistake for Menzies Bay.
“Everybody goes to Menzies Bay and they can’t find it and they say ‘to heck with it and they leave.’ There’s no cell phone reception up here so they can’t call us. We’ve lost a lot of business because of it,” Flurer says. “People need to be able to find us.”
Dave Miller, the general manager of ABC Recycling which is located at the bottom of Barge Terminal Road, has the same problem with customers passing by the street.
“We need to have signage to operate our business,” Miller says.
But now the city wants the signs removed. City Clerk Peter Wipper says the reason is two-fold.
“We received a complaint about the signs and we followed up and found none of the signs have permits from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure,” Wipper says. “Connie had a permit but it expired.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure did not respond to a request for comment before the Mirror went to press.
“But the main reason is, you can’t have a sign advertising your business off your property and certainly you can’t have a sign with an arrow point up the street to your property,” Wipper says.
The city’s sign bylaw specifically prohibits off-premise signs which are defined in the bylaw as “a sign that directs attention to a business, commodity, service, entertainment or thing not related to or located on the parcel on which the sign is located.”
There is an exemption in the bylaw that allows for off premise signs and that is if they are directional signs. But Wipper said a directional sign does not mean a sign with an arrow pointing towards a business.
A directional sign is defined by the city as signage that gives instructions. Wipper gave the example of a drive-thru sign which directs traffic towards the order board.
But Cawley disagrees and doesn’t understand why the city is picking on these businesses after all these years.
“Our sign has been there for 20 years,” Cawley says. “It’s just the weirdest thing. Suddenly after this many years there’s an issue in having the sign there.”
Cawley also figures it’s the province who should have jurisdiction over the signs since it’s on a highway right of way.
“The city is just playing big bully on the block. It’s become a bullying issue,” Cawley says. “There’s no reason why those signs need to come down, it’s a heavy industrial area miles out of town.”
But Wipper says the city has a right to ask that the signs be taken down because they’re not legal – they don’t have a permit and as off premise signs they are prohibited signs in the city of Campbell River.
Cawley, and the other four businesses, have until July 18 to remove their signs but they won’t go down that easily.
Cawley plans to present her case at the July 8 council meeting, supported by the other businesses.