Winnipeg’s mobile sign industry is seeing red over what the city is calling a black-and-white issue.
New restrictions proposed by the City of Winnipeg limiting the number and types of colours, size, and placement of temporary signage is drawing sharp criticism from those responsible for the eye-catching advertisements.
"Some of the changes could devastate our industry and potentially end up bankrupting some of us. And it’s also going to hurt small business across Winnipeg," said Brad Ingles, spokesman for Association of Mobile Signs Winnipeg.
The group was formed last year, when the city began reviewing bylaw enforcement and regulations, Ingles said Wednesday, and represents a handful of professional signage companies.
The city is updating its bylaw governing mobile signs and has proposed an array of regulatory changes, which will be considered Monday by the standing policy committee on property and development, heritage and downtown development.
Proposals include: allowing black, white and one other colour lettering on line-letter signs; reducing the maximum size of signs; limiting the number of signs permitted per lot; and adding a 30-day downtime between consecutive permits. Ingles said the proposed regulations also unfairly favour graphic or printed signs.
The bylaw from 2006 currently restricts colours on roadside signs to black and white.
Ingles said the city has not enforced that part of the bylaw for a decade, and it only recently cracked down to address growing numbers of derelict signs put up by individual business owners.
"They’ve done their job and they cleaned the city up, so I’m not sure why they’re coming down on us even harder," he said.
The mobile sign industry is also a source of revenue for the city, Ingles said, with one company spending $450,000 over 10 years on permits.
"In order for our signs to be effective, they need to be noticeable," Ingles said. "Without us being able to use colours and things to attract your attention to the sign, they’re less effective, and we’re going to have less clients."
“They’ve done their job and they cleaned the city up, so I’m not sure why they’re coming down on us even harder.” – Brad Ingles, spokesman for Association of Mobile Signs Winnipeg
Ingles said the association is also expecting bylaw enforcement to ramp up if the new regulations are adopted. The group has launched a petition to gather support.
The city is also proposing new regulations to control dancing inflatable tubes, pole-mounted flags, and signs and banners often spotted at car dealerships.
Geoff Sine, executive director of the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association, said the group is pleased to see the city bring its regulations in line with other jurisdictions.
"Several of the current regulations around signage are unclear and do not provide enough flexibility for the motor dealer industry," Sine said. "We have not fully studied the proposal in-depth; however, the proposed regulations seem reasonable."
Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the standing policy committee on property and development, heritage and downtown development, said he sympathizes with industry members. and his ward office hasn’t received one complaint about colour variation in signs.
"I’m very concerned about regulatory overkill here," Mayes said. "My view is: let’s get this to the public hearing and get this resolved.
"I really don’t care if there are coloured letters on mobile signs. We have bigger things to worry about."
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.