Local businesses are concerned about the timing of a decision made this week by Red Deer city council.
Council voted 5-2 Tuesday in favour of imposing tighter sign restrictions, including on the distance between portable signs which sit outside storefronts.
The new mandatory distance between portable signs is 100 metres, or as Marty Curtis with Red Deer's Magnet Signs noted during the public hearing, nearly the length of a football field.
"It's probably the most cost-effective form of advertising buisinesses can get," he said. "This is especially critical to mom and pop shops who can't afford billboards, they can't afford radio, television, and even newspaper can be prohibitive compared to the cost of a sign like ours."
Curtis also commented on the state of the economy, saying it remains a tough go for businesses right now.
"This is very restrictive, and in a lot of cases in Red Deer here, that's going to be one sign per lot, maybe two," he says. "What happens if you've got multiple businesses competing for those signs?"
He believes this scenario could cause strife between businesses owners who are upset they can't put a sign out.
"I know council and the planning department are very worried abut clutter, but I really don't think that's going to happen," he continued, pointing out distances in larger centres like Calgary and Edmonton are less than half of what Red Deer city council is prescribing.
Curtis did however praise council for recent changes which eliminated the need for permits to put a sign out, the costs of which were prohibitive, he added.
Robin Bobocel, CEO with the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce, agrees the decision is restrictive and isn't completely on board with the notion that residents are concerned about clutter.
"As soon as elections are gone, I don't hear any complaints about sign clutter. Nobody wants a complete blanket of signage up and down our boulevards, but that being said, dynamic signs like the ones being discussed would serve to allieviate a lot of that because it gives advertisers options."
In addition to the 100 metre distance between portable signs, the amended bylaw now states there must be 300 metres between dynamic signs, and 100 metres between a dynamic sign and a residential area.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find to many places outside of industrial parks that aren't within 100 metres of any residential development" Bobocel says. "So it's a bit concerning. We hold out hope there's some recognition of this and that they're open to revising the bylaw."
An additional resolution was passed unanimously directing administration to reconsider the changes made and bring the matter back to council within three months.
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