After postponing a decision five times, city council has approved rules concerning signs with scrolling digital messages.
On Monday following a public hearing, council passed final reading of a land use bylaw amendment regarding dynamic signs, also known as reader board signs.
The city has been trying to find the best way to regulate these new signs because they may distract drivers and they may clutter the look of streets.
The signs will be allowed in C2A Commercial Districts like Parkland Mall, Bower Mall and Village Mall. Existing signs, like the ones found on Red Deer College and Westerner Park properties, will be grandfathered.
Staff was tasked last month to prepare a report by the end of April on whether it’s a good idea to allow new signs within C4 Commercial (major arterial) zoning, which is primarily along Gaetz Avenue and areas adjacent to 67th Street.
Gil Vallee, general manager at the Capri Hotel, Trade and Convention Centre, asked council to support these signs immediately for C4 areas. He plans to put up such a sign as part of renovations for the hotel that sits on Gaetz Avenue.
“We recognize the urgency,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling.
Flewwelling said the city will do its utmost at making sure any recommendations from the report will be addressed quickly.
Ray Mitten, sales representative for Red Deer Neon, a division of National Neon signs, also told council not to expect a proliferation of these signs along city streets because many businesses can’t afford them.
“The average price is over $100,000,” he said.
He said during the 1970s and 1980s, 11 electronic signs emerged in Red Deer. Today, there are only six more.
“In the 35 years the electronic signs have been up, there has never been an accident related to the signs,” said Mitten.
Council decided at an earlier meeting that the message display time would stay at three seconds, not five. The intent to go to five was to decrease any potential for driver distraction. College officials were pleased with the three-second decision because they believe three seconds are ample to get their message across to passing motorists.
The city will also measure radius distances between signs. That means if someone wanted to put up a sign on a lot within a radius of 50 metres from an existing sign, then 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.
As well, council supported including show home and open house signs in the land use bylaw. They will be restricted to boulevards to two hours before and after an event.