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The City of Charlottetown has been cracking down on illegal signs blocking sidewalks in the downtown.
Dozens of permit applications were picked up on Thursday as the City of Charlottetown began cracking down on illegal signs blocking sidewalks in the downtown.
Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of planning, was getting an earful from angry merchants not long after.
Lantz says every summer, the city sees more and more sandwich board signs and each year it gets complaints about those signs from various individuals and disability groups.
Lantz said he’s seen people in wheelchairs finding it challenging to navigate around the signs.
The city attempts to reach out each year and remind people of the rules, hoping for compliance, but it hasn’t been working.
“The signs seem to have really multiplied this year, probably because merchants see other merchants using them,’’ Lantz said Thursday. “They see an opportunity and are simply unaware of the regulations.’’
The zoning and development bylaw regulates all signage in the city. Sandwich board signs require a permit like all other signs. They can be placed on public property in front of a business but not on the sidewalk.
The owner of the signs must carry insurance because there are liability issues for both the merchant and the city.
“Even hanging signs that protrude over the sidewalk require an encroachment agreement because they could fall on someone’s head.’’
Lantz said the sandwich board signs are of a particular concern for those with mobility problems or visual impairment because they are an obstruction.
“But I’ve also heard complaints that popular attractions like the Sir John A. Macdonald statue on Queen (Street) is often completely surrounded by seven or eight signs. It creates a lot of visual clutter.’’
The city’s planning committee estimates there were 80 sandwich board signs blocking the sidewalks, most of them in the Victoria Row area and along Queen Street. Of the 80 signs, only two had a permit.
As to why the city hasn’t been enforcing the bylaw, Lantz said the only recourse is to remove illegal signs until the business obtains a permit and places them appropriately.