Larger sign concerns Ladysmith council

Ladysmith council raises concerns over the amount of say the provincial government has over a proposed sign for Global Vocational Services.

The amount of influence the provincial government has over a business sign in Ladysmith raised concerns at council last week.

Council considered a signage development variance permit application for Global Vocational Services (GVS) during its July 16 meeting.

Town staff recommended that council either direct staff to proceed with the statutory notice for a permit to allow suspended signs at 740 First Ave. up to a maximum size of 1.5 metres squared — which was staff’s recommended option — or  to proceed with the statutory notice for a variance permit for GVS’s proposed sign as requested at 2.2 square metres.

Council chose to go with the second option, and notice will now be given to neighbouring property owners about GVS’s requested sign variance at 2.2 square metres in size.

GVS is proposing to provide a suspended sign at its office at 11-740 First Ave. on the second floor of the building and is requesting the sign variance because the Province of British Columbia requires that the sign must be easily readable from pedestrians or car traffic on the street connected to the centre. The sign must include the logos of the funders, a sentence about the funding of the centre and the words “Work BC” and “Employment Services Centre.”

The property is designated as Downtown Core in the town’s Official Community Plan, and this permits most types of signs, including suspended signs. The owner of 740 First Ave. permits only suspended signs on the second floor of the building to retain the aesthetic appeal.

The proposed suspended sign has a display area of 2.2 square metres, which is greater than the permitted size of 0.4 square metres. The size of the proposed suspended sign will be the same as the temporary sign currently being used.

A review of the existing suspended signs at 740 First Ave. shows there is a range in sizes, and the proposed GVS sign is one square metre larger than the largest existing suspended sign, that of Black Door Decor.

In her report to council, city manager Ruth Malli noted that staff feels the requested size is too large.

When asked why GVS is choosing to hang this sign rather than provide a sign on the building, chief operations officer Jack Tieleman explained that visibility is an issue.

“There are provincial mandates for height and certain logos,” he noted. “The sign has to adhere to provincial standards; it also has to adhere to our landlord’s standards, which we’ve achieved with this particular model that we’re presenting tonight … The size was based on recommendations by our sign maker and the distance from our front deck to First Avenue.”

The sign would be vinyl on aluminum with brown and white wooden trim to match the building.

Felicity Adams, the town’s director of development services, told council that the Heritage Revitalization Advisory Commission is supportive of the sign, subject to a smaller size.

Coun. Steve Arnett expressed concern that the proposed sign is so different from the other signs in town.

“Would we be setting a precedent relevant to our heritage committee and the standards of our community?” he asked. “I understand this is a provincial thing, but I’m not sure the province should have that kind of say.”