Chet Greason email@example.com
The city’s regulations for business signage are causing a small stir in Stratford’s south end.
Kevin Gibson, the franchisee opening a Midas automotive repair shop at the south end of Erie Street, is hoping council will grant an exception to the current signage bylaw.
The property the Midas will be located on shares the lot with a soon-to-be-built Harvey’s fast food restaurant. However, current rules dictate that only one ground sign is permitted per lot frontage, and Harvey’s has already received the go-ahead.
In attendance at the city’s planning and heritage sub-committee meeting on Thursday, Sept. 26 was Michael Achim of Illinois, there representing Midas International.
According to Achim, his company’s data shows that Midas outlets without a large roadside sign do 38 per cent less business than outlets with signage.
“Signage is imperative,” he said. “It’ll hurt the business if we don’t have a free-standing sign.”
Gibson noted a number of other automotive repair chains in Stratford, soon to be his competition once his Midas location opens, sport similar road signs.
“I want to open my business on a level playing field with the other businesses in town,” he said. “I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Staff’s report on the issue mentioned the negative effect that too many signs would have on the character of the area, noting that Erie south acts as a “gateway” to the city.
The report recommended that Harvey’s and Midas combine their signs into one unit advertising both businesses.
However, landlord Anne McDougall said a combined sign is “absolutely not a possibility” as agreements have been reached with both businesses and the base has already been constructed.
“That ship has sailed,” she added.
McDougall raised some eyebrows when she admitted she knew all along the signage issue would require a request for variance from the city.
“If it was known, it should have been considered during the application process,” said Coun. Karen Smythe.
McDougall, however, said the character of the area would not be effected by two separate signs as there are already eight pylon signs within a two kilometer distance along the stretch of road, including McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, and a number of car dealerships.
“We do have a lot of sign pollution,” noted Smythe, who added, “if we started exempting, why have the bylaw in the first place?”
Coun. Martin Ritsma sympathized with Gibson, noting the reliable role he’s played in the local automotive repair industry for a number of years. However, Ritsma put forward the approved staff recommendation of a combined sign.
That seemed to upset Gibson.
“It feels like I’m being singled out,” he said. “Do you want empty buildings on Erie or successful businesses… Rather than empty factories, which is what is there now.”
McDougall asked whether both businesses would be allowed to put up their own signs if she were to sever the lot. She was informed that they would.
A final decision will be made by council in October.