Cluttered-sign bylaw given housekeeping changes

SURREY – In the attempt to reduce cluttered signage in problem business districts, the City of Surrey is first focusing on cleaning up bylaws governing them.

Surrey Council passed first, second and third reading on Monday (Sept. 29) to some housekeeping amendments of Surrey’s Sign Bylaw 13656 that will simplify and clarify the signage bylaws.

Coun. Bruce Hayne said the city’s bylaw enforcement officers, as well as the planning department, needed a little more clarity about the rules surrounding comprehensive corporate sign packages.

Major changes to the signage bylaw, which was first amended on July 29, 2013, were made to reduce clutter of signage in the city, allow for comprehensive sign packages to be streamlined through the planning and approval process, and to help beautify the city.

Bylaw officers have been in an ongoing

period of communication and education with the business community, rather than enforcement and fines. As well, when businesses get their license renewed at city hall they will receive information to help make signage changes, if necessary.

“Because this isn’t about making it more difficult to do business or to impose fines and sanctions and things like that,” said Hayne. “This is about wanting to create a level playing field for the business community through a simplified sign bylaw.”

Most of the amendments deal with unsightliness, such as flags or banners in windows, or sandwich boards on public property and sidewalks.

While the main focus is on business sectors, there are some geographical spots the city will focus on, such as sections of 128th Street and Scott Road.

Hayne said the signage bylaw changes will have the desired effect, but might take some time. Following the education campaign, fines for non-compliance will run around $150 and the city will have the right to confiscate illegal signs on public property.

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