The Commercial Sign Bylaw Skinny


The commercial sign bylaws have come under scrutiny lately and came up at city council tonight.

The issue was discussed for quite a while.

The topic quickly changed to portable signage.

Four deligations came to council to speak their side of the story. There was much frustration over the bylaw’s possible invasion of business opportunity and/or lack of enforcement.

Each deligation was quite frank about the job opportunities and business that their signs create, with the exception of Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.

It believes portable signs currently are cluttering and defacing the look of the city.

The signage is currently 90 per cent in line with the laws.

Third-party advertising was discussed and the elimination of it would put two of the deligation companies out of business.

Some third-party advertising is for charity or not-for-profits.

Councilor Krmpotich asked the question of what the impacts of the bylaw on business.

The Chamber of Commerce spoke that there would be much business affected but the bylaw is coming in too soon to show the actual impact.

Councilor Hollingsworth stated that her family’s business was affected by the current bylaw.

It was stated that it is against the law to put a ban on commercial signage.

Councilor Fata expressed his want for compromise and mayor Provenzano tried to correct him, saying the process has explored all parties but the Chamber of Commerce says the end-user, the renters of these signs have not been consulted.

Councilor Fata said the fear of digital signage and it causing possible car accidents has got to a point of “ridiculousness.”

From the city council agenda, Peter Tonazzo (city’s senior planner):

“The adoption of the new signs by-law represents a significant opportunity to
improve the overall aesthetics of the community, especially as it relates to the proliferation of portable signs currently cluttering our major commercial corridors.

Although the proposed changes to portable signage may be unsettling to
portable sign companies and some business owners, reducing portable sign
clutter represents a fairly easy, swift way to significantly improve the aesthetics of our commercial corridors.

The recommended phasing approach will grant portable sign owners and users more than 2 years to adapt. One option for business owners, especially on properties with multiple tenants, in is to invest in a permanent ground sign with a digital or manual readerboard, to augment their reduced ability to permanently advertise on portable signs.

It is both staff and the Committee’s position that the revised regulations are enforceable, and represent an appropriate balance.”


Tonazzo said he’s been at this for 2 years and he feels there is no solution to compromise all parties.

Councilor Turco said he has not heard the word compromise and would not support the bylaw.

Councilor Romano said the bylaw would put roadblocks to business and would not support the bylaw.

Councilor Bruni was worried that businesses would close from this bylaw and wants another bylaw officer.

Councilor Krmpotich was not in favour of losing business and was against the bylaw.

Councilor Niro was afraid of affecting business.

Councilor Fata said he and council should not vote for the bylaw in its current state.

Councilor Shoemaker, Hollingsworth, Christian and mayor Provenzano were in favour of the bylaw.

Councilor Romano and Turco asked for a deferral.

It failed.

The bylaw was passed.


  1. There are too many of these signs cluttering our city and some need to go no question, but how it took the city over three years to come up with this so called plan is a testament to how unorganized it is and how badly it is run. They need to make an amendment to this law or it will never pass and was a total waste of time and taxpayer money. The mayor said a lot of time and work was put into this but never mentioned how much we had to pay for this three plus year study. I would say whatever it was it was far too much and could have been easily done in half of that amount of time had the committee not been milking it for all it was worth.

  2. Those who own a business have expressed…loud and clear,,,that these signs are a reasonable cost to them to get their advertising across. We all know this city is suffering. I cannot understand how a city council would not at least vote for a deferral. Those in business need all the help they can get. They do not need elected officials nosing in their business and making rules that are not even necessary.The slogan WE ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS has left the city.Shame on council for making it even more difficult for those in business…not to mention the job losses at the sign companies.

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