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Canmore approves new entranceway signage policy

CANMORE – Municipal council will now have the final say to resolve disputes about entranceway signs located on public property. Council unanimously agreed at its Feb.
These entrance way signs at Spring Creek Mountain Village caused confusion and controversy last year about Canmore’s signage policies.

CANMORE – Municipal council will now have the final say to resolve disputes about entranceway signs located on public property.

Council unanimously agreed at its Feb. 5 meeting to create the new policy in an effort to provide clear direction for this type of development after two signs installed at the entrance of Spring Creek Mountain Village last year caused controversy and confusion. 

“The construction of the Spring Creek Mountain Village entrance features last year exposed some gaps in our process and evaluation methods,” said Nathan Grivell, a development planner for the town.

Under the new policy, the planning and development department will review and evaluate each application before circulating it to the engineering department and the public works department for input.

From there, the public will be notified about the application through local advertising. After the public has been informed, the development officer will review any public feedback it received before the Town’s chief administrative officer makes a final decision on the application.

If the applicant disputes the CAO’s decision, council will make a final decision. The decision cannot be appealed.

By clarifying the decision making process it will eliminate the confusion experienced last year when two large signs erected at the entrance of Spring Creek Drive sparked controversy about whether they were in violation of the Town’s signage regulations.

At issue were the signs’ mass, height, landscaping and the fact there are two signs instead of one, however the Town’s Land Use Bylaw did not specially include regulations about entranceway signs.

As a result, neither the municipality nor the developer thought they needed a development permit to install the signs, so the installation of the signs went ahead without any public input causing controversy in the community.

After the signs were installed, administration decided to retroactively apply for a development permit with Canmore’s Planning Commission, which denied the application.

Spring Creek Mountain Village appealed the decision to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, which ultimately threw out the appeal.

Complicating matters, throughout this entire process administration was unaware that in 2001 a protocol was developed for entranceway features and subdivision signs that provided clear steps in the approval process, however even that process was flawed because it referred any disputes to the Canmore Planning Commission for a non-binding recommendation.

“To refer to a decision making body for a non-binding recommendation creates opportunities for unclarity and conflict, which are unnecessary,” said Michael Fark, the Town’s general manager of infrastructure.

As part of the new policy, it also provides applicants and administration clear direction about what an entrance feature can and cannot include.

For example, under the new policy an entranceway sign can provide directional or way finding signage, but must not include artwork like statues, or marketing features like a water fountain.

The new policy only applies to entrance features proposed on municipal road right of way. Signs on private property will be subject to the Town’s Land Use Bylaw.

As part of the policy’s evaluation criteria the applicant will also have to demonstrate there is no suitable location for the entreance way sign on private property.

“If there’s an opportunity to have it on private property ideally that’s where it should go,” said Grivell.

The signage will also have to align with the development’s area structure plan or redevelopment plan and be in accordance with the Town’s Land Use Bylaw, which includes restrictions on a materials, colour, height and signage area.

The CAO will also have the authority over discretionary issues like the location, massing, landscaping and the number of signs that can be installed and ensure that these elements are designed appropriately to fit the streetscape and adjacent uses.

Paul Clarke

About the Author: Paul Clarke

Paul Clarke has spent the past four years working as a community news reporter in Jasper, Banff and Canmore.
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