Winnipeg sign industry is upset a long-awaited set of new rules governing billboards and digital signs includes a tax hike that almost quadruples existing rates.
City council’s property committee voted Friday morning to pass a wide-ranging package of zoning regulations governing the size and placement of billboards and digital signs. The plan has been in the works since the city amended the Winnipeg Zoning Bylaw in 2008.
The new rules make moving digital type on signs illegal and place a cap on billboard height at 10 metres, among the many changes.
But the sign industry is outraged taxes for conventional billboards will jump to $5.70 per square foot from $1.50 per square foot. Such a move would increase the annual tax burden on an average billboard to $1,140 from $350, said Joanne Koop of Pattison Outdoor.
The move may severely affect business for Pattison and CBS, the city’s two main billboard operators, Pattison municipal-relations manager Doug Forsyth said. He said the industry has been blindsided by the new taxes, which were announced Monday.
Property committee chairman Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said the existing taxes were too low.
The new rules still face approval from council’s executive policy committee next week and council as a whole on Dec. 12.
If approved, the new taxes would take effect in June or July of 2013.