City pauses sign debate

A new way of street advertising in a larger and flashier fashion continues to cause angst within Red Deer city council chambers.

At the corner of Taylor Drive and 32nd Street a reader board sign has been installed to inform passing motorists and pedestrians of what is happening at Red Deer College.

A new way of street advertising in a larger and flashier fashion continues to cause angst within Red Deer city council chambers.

For the third time since August, city council postponed first reading of a land-use bylaw amendment regarding dynamic signs.

Dynamic signs, also know as reader board signs, display rotating digital messages or images, like the ones found on the Red Deer College and Westerner Park properties.

The city is trying to find the best way to regulate these new signs because they may distract drivers and clutter the look of streets.

Councillors Cindy Jefferies and Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer are even wondering if Red Deer should allow them at all, with the exception of existing ones.

“I am not crazy about dynamic signs,” said Watkinson-Zimmer following Monday’s council meeting. “Is that what we want Red Deer to look like? I think they could be a blight on our city.”

Jefferies said, “I don’t prefer to see signs along Gaetz Avenue. I don’t want them.”

One concern regarding these signs is how many should be allowed in proximity with each other.

Parkland Community Planning Services initially recommended using a separation distance of 150 metres between signs, measured along one side of the street.

The planning department suggested that if this rule was in place, then potentially about 10 signs could go up along Gaetz Avenue between 37th Street and 32nd Street.

It is now recommending measuring radius distances between signs. That means if someone wanted to put up a sign on a lot within a radius — now 50 metres — of an existing sign, they couldn’t do so.

The 50-metre radius is measured from lot line boundaries, so a bigger lot would have a larger separation distance. Using Gaetz Avenue as an example, 11 signs could go up.

“We’re not getting any better with radial numbers,” said Watkinson-Zimmer.

Council was told there are benefits to using radius measurement. Staff use it for other purposes like public notification of certain issues and it has worked well. It’s also considered a more straight-forward measurement at intersections.

Administration will have up to eight weeks to review several issues, including the legality of banning dynamic signs altogether, distance setbacks and whether images on signs should run a maximum of three or five seconds. Red Deer College and Westerner Park officials plan to speak against upping the image length to five seconds.

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