A proposed sign bylaw amendment aims to stop electronic message centre signage from sprouting up in Colwood in future.
City planning director Iain Bourhill presented the proposal during a land use and planning committee meeting on Tuesday.
The amendments would prevent any new large, flashing and scrolling digital signs – similar to the video board in front of West Shore Parks and Recreation on Island Highway – from being installed in the city.
Often characterized by flat-screen video monitors with LED displays, the digital signs can be distracting for drivers, especially in the evening, says committee member, Coun. Gordie Logan.
“There has been (that) argument,” he said. “They draw your eye, which takes your focus off the road when you’re driving or cycling. That is (one) issue that has been raised, as well as the reflection, glow and glare.”
Under the proposed amendment, West Shore Parks and Recreation would have its EMC sign use grandfathered since their sign is already in place. The existing sign bylaw generally permits the EMC signs in commercial zones, the bulk of which are located along Island Highway/Sooke Road.
Of Colwood’s 59 motor vehicle incidents in 2014, 32 happened on that roadway, where most of the heavy signage is located.
An engineer’s report pointed to Sooke Road’s median speed being more than 50 km per hour, with volume of more than 24,000 vehicles per day.
Logan said there are reasons besides safety why the signs may no longer be welcomed, as well.
“We need to turn our heads to how we want to see our city centre and how other areas of Colwood look. Do we want it to look like the Vegas strip, with a lot of electronic signs?” he asked. “Or do we want it tasteful, like the sign at Denny’s for example, something that defines Colwood that’s not overbearing. When we’re looking at this, we’re looking long term.”
Work on crafting an amended sign bylaw began in February 2012, after council asked staff to create some options for council’s consideration. These proposed amendments are a result of that process.
“I think there are other ways for business to put themselves out there and market themselves other than electronic signs,” Logan said.
Bourhill said during his presentation that the city is interested in taking a proactive approach and presenting the amendment to the public before bringing a finalized version to council for approval.