The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) remains concerned that a new sign bylaw, set to be discussed by City Council on Monday evening may have an unintentional negative impact on some local businesses. As a result, the Chamber is planning to ask the City to take a measured approach to the implementation of any new signage regulations.
According to SSMCOC CEO, Rory Ring, the proposed sign by-law is going to impact virtually every type of outdoor signage used by small businesses, from portable signs to digital, from storefront awnings to billboards.
Ring notes that the by-law “contains new restrictions on where signs can be placed, whether businesses will be able to advertise on sites other than their own property and reduces the amount of time that businesses may be able to take advantage of portable signage.”
Among the new restrictions outlined in the proposed by-law, specific to portable signs, is a 180 day permit expiration and a maximum permit allowance of 180 days per calendar year, per sign per property. Portable signs will also only be allowed to advertise for businesses located on the same property as the sign.
Paul Johnson, President of the SSMCOC suggests that portable signage “remains a cost-effective and proven means of advertising for small businesses which are often unable to afford other types of marketing, but are significant contributors to our employment base.” He adds that this type of signage also greatly benefits the small business that is reliant on seasonal marketing (of which there are many in our community).
Ring says that the Chamber is concerned that many local businesses are not well aware of how this new by-law is going to impact them and that it would be prudent for the City to not rush into implementing the full by-law, complete with all of the new restrictions.
The Chamber is planning to suggest a number of recommendations to make the introduction of the new sign by-law more gradual while also allowing everyone involved more time to assess its impact. While the Chamber feels that the majority of the by-law is a reasonable accommodation to conflicting interests, it plans to ask the City to maintain the current regulations specific to portable signs for at least two years so that there is some additional time to strike a committee to assess the impact of the by-law and engage the Sault’s tourism sector.
The Chamber will ask Council to consider contracting sign by-law enforcement to the private sector for quarterly enforcement activity and to establish a process for self-enforcement by the sign companies.
The Chamber remains committed to working with the City to ensure that the signage regulations adopted by the city:
– remain fair to all local businesses, regardless of size and marketing budget
– do not jeopardize local jobs and businesses that will be impacted by the regulations
– do not negatively impact sales and revenues of local businesses that depend on signage as a means of reaching customers
– ultimately helps achieve the goal of creating a positive aesthetic in respect to signage and advertising