Terrace council seeks change to sign bylaw

Animated signs have outpaced city's sign regulations

Bright signs with moving images on them have become popular for businesses in Terrace.

Last night a presentation by a local resident speaking out against such signs renewed the debate and his concerns were echoed by council, with two members voting against a variance permit for an electronic sign installation for the Terrace Carpet Centre on Keith/Hwy16, practically across the highway from Tim Hortons.

“It’s sky trash,” said local resident Daniel Nieckarz in his presentation to council. “It’s TV on a stick.”

Citing studies that show a higher incident of traffic accidents near bright signs as well as the polices in several US States and Sweden that ban billboards, the Jackpine Flats resident closed his presentation by calling on council to tell Boston Pizza, the first company to erect an animated sign, to take it down.

In particular, Nieckarz thought playing clips of hockey games was distracting to drivers and he was backed by councillor Lynne Christiansen who said that the sign could ruin the view of Sleeping Beauty mountain.

“On behalf of my fellow concerned citizens I am here to ask council to create a policy to ban electronic bill boards,” said Nieckarz, adding that Terrace should seek to beautify, and not contribute what he termed “sky pollution”.

When city council approved a variance permit last year allowing Boston Pizza to install an animated sign at the front of its restaurant on Hwy16 it opened a bit of a bylaw can of worms.

Written decades ago, Terrace’s sign bylaw doesn’t contain rules about LED signs, and as a consequence the city has in recent years found itself in the position of having to establish rules one variance permit at a time.

Since Boston Pizza, three other businesses have applied for variance permits, including two last night.

Historically, animated electronic signs have only been permitted in the C2 zone designated to large commercial operations such as the Skeena Mall, and so any business that isn’t in that zone has to go through a variance permit application process.

Last night two companies in the light industrial and C3 service commercial zones applied for variance permits for electronic signs. One, a vehicle maintenance business called Lindsay Enterprises Inc., located at 5131 Keith Ave. in the light industrial area of the city, and the other being the Terrace Carpet Centre.

Councillor Stacey Tyers voted against the Terrace Carpet Centre variance and so did councillor James Cordeiro.

According to ICBC, that intersection has the most accidents, councillor Brian Downie told council. “We have an obsolete bylaw,” he added.

When the votes came, both companies received their variances from council.

“I think council has made it clear that this is making them uncomfortable,” said councillor Marylin Davies, who was acting as deputy mayor in David Pernarowski’s absence.

The debate led to a recommendation put forward by councillor Bruce Bidgood.

“I would like to recommend that staff review the progress to date in terms of revising the bylaw and a timeline for council’s consideration.”

Other recent permits for animated signs include one for Home Hardware (formerly Rona Builders Centre) at 3207 Munroe St.