At a regular City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, Council voted to temporarily approve a variance for backlit signage on Stemwinder Drive.
The original recommendation from staff was to allow for a variance to the Sign Bylaw, for the permanent installation of backlit signs to showcase real-estate information in the window of a commercial unit located in the Alpine Village.
After much discussion, Council voted to amend the motion, approving the variance for one year, once the signage is installed.
Councillor Albert Hoglund was the first to suggest that the approval be temporary, to allow for feedback from residents, visitors and neighbouring businesses over a one year time period.
According to a report to Council from City Planner Christopher Jones, notice was previously given to neighbours after the variance was considered at the December 11 Council meeting.
Mayor Don McCormick says that the City has made similar variances to the sign bylaw in the past, and that with so much new technology, many people end up being the “guinea pigs”, or the first to apply for such a variance.
“I don’t think that just because it’s new or never been done before that it’s a reason to not pursue a particular project,” said McCormick. “However, consequences of that definitely need to be taken into consideration. It is a bit of a fine line, when somebody’s doing something, you can pretty much guarantee there will be someone who doesn’t like it. The fact that somebody doesn’t like it, is that enough to stop people from moving forward with changes to their property? I think complaints will come forward if it’s having a negative impact on quality of life or quality of use of property.”
Councillor Bev Middlebrook voted against against both the amended and original motions, stating that light from several vibrant signs could affect the quality of life for those living or staying near by.
“It would be awful for people to have to look at that glare and that light the whole time they are on holidays,” said Middlebrook. “Light can be irritating to all human beings, especially bright light at night, it can affect quality of life.”
Councillor Kent Goodwin asked if allowing the variance would establish a president for other units who may want to install similar signage.
“Is there a reason why we wouldn’t allow others to do the same, if we’ve allowed it here?” Goodwin asked.
Manager of Planning Services, Troy Polluck responded saying that the proposed product is largely promoted for realty office use, and that if others wanted to go a similar route, they too would have to have a separate application and proposal for Council to review and look at any potential implications.
“Another issue brought forward is the fact that this is a Strata complex, so anything of this nature that is going to take place also has to be approved by Strata,” explained Councillor Sandra Roberts. “One wonders wether or not that is the same thing as asking the neighbours if that’s okay.”
Councillor Nigel Kitto says this will be a significant investment for the business owner for something that could potentially only last a year.
“That’s the gamble you’ve got to take,” said Hoglund. “Would you sooner have it put up permanently and having nothing but complaints?”