Billboards have a role in this digital age, so their numbers should not be reduced, a Chamber of Commerce representative told Red Deer City Council this week.
“I understand the priorities — that there’s a desire for streets to be clean and clutter-free,” said Reg Warkentin, policy manager for the chamber.
But Warkentin said “physical” signs are still important, at this time of eBay, Twitter and Google.
He figures about 12,000 motorists a day see the roadside advertisements on Gaetz Avenue and Taylor Drive. “We want people to know we have local providers for nearly anything you can desire.”
Warkentin was the only public speaker at Monday’s public hearing on a new billboard bylaw, but voiced the general concerns of the business community.
Council deliberated on the fine balance between pleasing retailers and raising the hackles of city residents who see roadside signage as an eyesore.
Since more commercial applications for billboards are being received, city administrators recommended expanding some of the routes where billboards are allowed to 77th Street and the west end of 67th Street, near Hwy 2 and Hwy 11A.
But their proposal also included limiting one billboard per city “site,” defined as a 500-metre radius. This means the closest distance between any new billboards would be 1,000 metres (older, closer ones would be grandfathered in, but cannot be replaced).
Coun. Dianne Wyntjes suggested reducing this radius to 300-metres. But her amendment, while also supported by Coun. Michael Dawe and Coun. Ken Johnston, was defeated by the rest of council (Coun. Buck Buchanan was absent).
Coun. Frank Wong said he won’t support it, since he’s always hearing complaints about too many signs in the city that are too close together. “I’m not supporting clusters.”
Council later approved the 500-metre spacing, with Wyntjes, Dawe and Johnston voting against it.
The city’s dynamic signs bylaw will be reviewed in the new year.