I have reviewed the draft sign regulation bylaw and at first glance it appears this is a wonderful document and it will be an essential tool to support a major intent of the document which is “to enhance the appearance of the municipality.”
The main problem that I am sure you all realize is that Sooke is not like Victoria and it is not like the picture of Langford which is shown on page five of the document. Sooke does not have a typical downtown business community with storefront shops and it does not appear at the present time that it will ever have this typical look.
The majority of the small businesses in Sooke are located off Sooke Road either on the side streets or are set back some distance from Sooke Road. It is essential for their survival that they be permitted to advertise and this is even more important in the current economic environment. Sandwich boards and portable signs are an effective way for these businesses to tell locals and tourists where they are located and what services they provide. In most instances these signs are quite attractive and in fact add to the character of our community.
The draft Sign Regulation Bylaw will essentially eliminate this as a means of advertising as it restricts the placement of these signs to within 10 feet of the door to the businesses. This bylaw will be extremely harmful for our Sooke businesses. An exception to this at sec 6.15.1 states “a sandwich board sign for a medical clinic may be located on Highway 14,” this gives preferential treatment to one business over another and this should not be permited to occur.
Before you vote on this document I would appreciate it if you would consider the following:
• Most tourists that I have spoken with appreciate the natural beauty of our community but comment on the unattractive appearance of our town centre. I believe we should first concentrate on improving the overall appearance of our town centre and then a document such as this can be used to fine tune the desired effect we want. However, in the meantime, this document could have a severe detrimental affect on our small business community.
• The portable and sandwich board signs of The Stick shown on pages nine and 10 of the document will have to be removed.
• The signs advertising Sunriver Estates and Mariner’s Village will have to be removed.
Most of the signs in front of the Prestige Hotel will have to be removed. I’m sure they will appreciate this after investing millions in our community.
• Someone will have to tell the Sooke Fine Arts Society that they cannot put a sandwich board on Sooke Road to let our visitors know where to find the fine art show.
• The Sooke Philharmonic Society will not be able to use their banners and signs to assist those that are participating in their annual Secret Garden Tour fundraiser.
• The fishing charter and whale watching signs will have to be removed along with the signs used by Mom’s Café, Mountain Cycle, Sea of Bloom flower shop, aAternative Kitchen, Serious Coffee, Sushi on the Sea, Lazy Gecko, Markus’ Restaurant, bottle depot, Jock’s Dock, kayak rentals, Eagle Eye fishing, St. Vincent de pPul, and many others.
In summary, I believe this document is ahead of its time for Sooke, in fact it refers to the business section of Goodmere Road and Waterview Street which at the present time are non-existent.
Thank you for your consideration.