Winnipeg may finally move forward with long-awaited restrictions on flashy digital signs that distract drivers.
Council's property committee held a public hearing Tuesday to get feedback on a host of new regulations that govern where electronic signs can be placed outside of the downtown, and limit their size, height and brightness. Winnipeg plans to ban digital billboards that use electronic screens, televisions or other technology that displays moving images.
Other digital reader boards that display images must wait at least six seconds before changing messages.
If the new bylaw is approved by executive policy committee and city council, the regulations will take effect by the end of April.
Property committee chairman Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said there are some signs that will need to be modified or reprogrammed to meet the new criteria for things such as brightness. He said the city examined the best practices in other jurisdictions and tried to accommodate everyone, including residents who do not want bright signs shining light into their homes during off-hours.
Browaty said the restrictions will help ensure vehicle and pedestrian safety.
"You want to have the ability to have these signs, but not have them be too distracting," he said.
The city reviewed the issue of billboards and digital signs in 2011 after officials noticed an increase in requests to convert ordinary billboards into electronic billboards. The signs have become a source of conflict between outdoor-advertising companies and people living near them.
Industry officials told the committee the new regulations are too restrictive and will create delays in obtaining permits for businesses that want to erect signage.
Charles Chappell, a lawyer representing Pattison Outdoor, an outdoor advertising and marketing agency, said the draft bylaw prohibits companies from even submitting an application for a sign on certain lands, including agricultural land.
Councillor accuses city of bullying Downtown BIZ
- Funding spat: Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said the city is bullying the Downtown BIZ to sign an "unreasonable" funding agreement over downtown police cadets. Earlier this week, protection and community services chairman Coun. Scott Fielding (St. James-Brooklands) said the Downtown BIZ made a public commitment of $100,000 last year when the city decided police cadets would take over the organization's community-outreach program. Fielding said the Downtown BIZ has not paid for the second quarter of 2013 or signed a formal funding agreement with the city, and the city may withhold a portion of its annual contribution to the Downtown BIZ to if it does not follow through with its commitment.
Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande said the proposed agreement is not in the best interest of the BIZ and its members, as the city wants an annual grant of $100,000 in perpetuity with no contract end date or conditions.
- Fire-hall land: Council's property committee voted in favour of declaring former fire-hall land on Grosvenor Avenue surplus so it can be sold. The move still has to be approved by executive policy committee and city council. The property was one of three city-owned properties initially set to be traded in a land swap with Shindico Realty for Winnipeg's new fire-paramedic Station No. 12, which was built on Shindico-owned land on Taylor Avenue.