Town takes on flashing window signs
Richmond Hill Sign By-law 5209 prohibits flashing digital signs. Despite multiple complaints by residents, there they are in the downtown.
According to area councillor David West, flashing digital signs compromise the area esthetic.
“The area really needs to be cleaned up. At night the flashing lights are not adding to [residents’] perception of a commercial area that they would want to shop in.… We want the downtown core to be filled with beautiful storefronts,” he said.
One of the largest signs is at a plaza right across the street from the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts (RHCPA).
The village of Richmond Hill Business Improvement Area (BIA) chair, Mehrdad Sabouhi, said they have a relationship with the owner. He added that some BIA members have complained that the RHCPA has a flashing sign itself.
Sabouhi, for his part, understands why large signs change the character of the area
“Hopefully our next step in a few years would be to have artistic, historical-looking signs,” he said, adding that he thinks the current permit process for new frontage from the Town of Richmond Hill is too costly for tenants.
Both West and John DeVries, director of regulatory services for the Town of Richmond Hill, consider this to be an “apples and oranges” argument. In fact, the town has an exemption for the RHCPA sign in the bylaw.
“The town does not use them [RHCPA] always for commercial purposes. It can put all kinds of public service announcements on the sign,” said DeVries.
Meetings will be getting underway soon to make business owners aware of the rules.
“The impetus was actually one of complaint,” said DeVries. “We have redeployed a number of bylaw officers.”
The next step is to start an inventory of all the existing signs. After that, DeVries noted that actions will have to be taken to bring businesses into compliance.