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Highways ministry willing to work with businesses contravening sign regulations

The province says it will work with four local businesses who have been ordered by the city to remove commercial signs along Highway 19
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The province says it will work with four local businesses who have been ordered by the city to remove commercial signs along Highway 19.

The owners of ABC Recycling, D & T Rebuilders, Flurer Smokery and Schnitzer Steel Corporation have been served notice that their signs must come down by July 18.

The city discovered that only D & T Rebuilders ever had a permit from the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to put up a sign and that it expired 14 years ago.

On Monday, the ministry confirmed the permit expired in November 2000 and said it no longer issues permits for signs advertising businesses on the ministry’s highway right of way.

“The ministry does not permit signs advertising businesses, other than the Service and Attraction Program, which has specific requirements,” according to an e-mail from the Ministry of Transportation. “However, the signs in question would not qualify in this case.”

But despite the lack of permits, the ministry said it’s willing to help the business owners.

“The ministry will be meeting with the City of Campbell River and the local businesses to review the situation and work towards a solution that respects the local bylaws and the ministry’s signing program.”

That would be welcome news to the business owners who use the signs as directional guides for their customers. The businesses are not visible from the highway and are located north of the former mill site, off of Duncan Bay Road and, in ABC’s case, at the bottom of Barge Terminal Road.

But City Clerk Peter Wipper said the signs are classified as off premise signs which are not permitted in Campbell River.

“You can’t have a sign advertising your business off your property and certainly you can’t have a sign with an arrow pointing up the street to your property,” Wipper told the Mirror last week.

The only exception is if the off premise sign is a directional sign which is defined in the city’s sign bylaw as: “a permanent sign, which only communicates information regarding vehicular or pedestrian movement on the parcel on which it is located.”

Wipper said that means a sign located off the business’ property, which has a sign pointed towards the business, is not considered a directional sign.

Connie Cawley, co-owner of D & T Rebuilders, said in the 22 years the sign has been there, there has never been a problem before and if the city follows through on its order to have the signs removed, it will be a death sentence for the small businesses.

“They’re trying to dispose of four businesses,” Cawley said. “And there’s tons of these signs around town. Are they going to tear them all down?”

Cawley is scheduled to present her case at the July 8 council meeting.