St.-Albert-Gazette

Portable Sign Bylaws St. Albert

The St. Albert Gazette posted the following article written by Jennifer Henderson. https://www.stalberttoday.ca/local-news/city-relaxes-rules-on-portable-signs-1298946. This article is full of misleading and inaccurate information. I was interviewed for this article and misquoted by Henderson in this article. I then posted a comment to their page and the paper then removed my post. My comments to the article are below and I hope that people read this to see the real truth as to what had happened. Also, I will never do another interview with Henderson again as she has her own agenda which is clearly not the truth. That is why the St. Albert Gazette is the worst newspaper.

My comment to their blog post:

Jennifer, when you and I spoke on the phone I asked you to write a fair article about the meeting where I spoke the city Council. This is clearly not the case.

Let’s start with the title of this article which is clearly wrong. City Council was not relaxing the regulations surrounding portable signs, they were simply reverting a portion of the land-use bylaw back to prior to October 2017. The title of this article should read “correcting a injustice against the portable sign industry” as administration blindsided our industry and our customers by bringing forth a motion to change a sectional land-use bylaw without inviting industry to the table. It is true that we were informed of general changes to the land-use bylaw two years ago, however we were not invited to this meeting where this specific section of the land-use bylaw was proposed to be changed in October of 2017. This was clearly an attempt by administration to push through an agenda without any input from industry or the businesses that use portable signs in the city of St. Albert. 

Even the president of the Alberta Portable Sign Association stated at this Council meeting that he was not made aware of the proposed changes to the land-use bylaw. As a major stakeholder in St. Albert that spends thousands of dollars a year on permits and communicates with the city on a weekly basis via e-mail, I could have easily been made aware of this meeting but they chose not to in an attempt to push forward their agenda.

It should also be noted that the only roundtable discussion the city of St. Albert had regarding the land-use bylaw was by invitation only and therefore administration stacked the cards in a manner that would lead to a predetermined outcome by putting people in a room that had similar beliefs as to how the land-use bylaw should be written.  I sent numerous requests to be involved in the process and was never consulted by administration, and I am one of the largest stakeholders in the city of St. Albert.

Prior to the municipal election administration proposed changes to the land-use bylaw that would restrict the use of portable signs on a handful of properties in St. Albert and since industry was unaware of any changes to the land-use bylaw we did not speak at this meeting in October and therefore the changes were approved.  We then asked city Council to revert this change back to how the land-use bylaw was written prior to October of 2017. With a vote of 5 to 2 the land-use bylaw on these properties was changed back to the verbiage of prior to October of 2017.

How is it fair that a portable sign is the only non-permanent sign that I know of in the city of St. Albert that requires a city permit and that permit is almost double the price of city of Edmonton. How was it fair that a construction company in place a sign 3 to 4 times larger than the portable sign without a permit? How is it fair that a for lease or for-sale sign be placed in St. Albert without a permit? How was it fair that if a frame or sandwich board can be placed in St. Albert without a permit? How is it fair that any sign 24 ft.² or smaller can be placed without a permit? How is it fair that a banner hung on the side of a sea container 8 feet high by 20 feet long does not require a permit? How is it fair that developers can erect massive signs, again, without permits? All of the above-mentioned signs are forms of advertising and yet none of them, to my knowledge, require permits in the city of St. Albert except portable signs. Also, many of these sign types saw relaxations under the changes to the current land-use bylaw while the city looked for ways to continue to restrict the use of portable sites.

Portable Bylaws St. Albert

Almost every city Councilor used some form of a portable sign to get elected in the last municipal election including Kathy Heron and Wes Brodhead who voted against these changes.  So how it fair that it’s okay to use portable signs to get elected but yet restrict what businesses can do on their own commercial private property?

What I continue to ask for is fairness, either every type of sign should require a permit, or none, including election signs. In an increasingly competitive world where local businesses continue to pay a disproportional amount of taxes, and while Google, Amazon and other online businesses get to compete in our local communities with the advantage of not having to pay local taxes or even require a local business license and therefore have a lower cost of operating and competing against the businesses that pay those ridiculously high taxes and employ local people, St. Albert administration continues to look to find ways to restrict our freedoms and the use of signage in the city is in Albert.  Shame on them!

We all need to do more help create a more successful business community in all municipalities.  Signage is key to business as it helps identify the business and helps promote the business.  A portable sign is an effective and affordable form of advertising that helps a business attract new customers and promote sales and specials to passerby. 

Regards

Greg Pawlechko