Stratford Gazette editorial
It’s just a sign. This was reiterated numerous times during council’s discussion last week on whether or not to grant the new Midas location on Erie Street South an exemption to the sign bylaw that states that there can be only one sign per lot.
It’s just a sign. That sentiment won out eventually. Midas was granted its sign.
The word “precedence” was bandied around a great deal that night, and it’s worth noting that, with council’s decision, a precedence was indeed set that night; and it had nothing to do with the amount of signs on Erie Street.
The precedence came in the manner that the sign exemption was requested. The developer admitted she knew about the bylaw from the get-go. She knew full well the city’s rules state each lot can have only one sign. The various stakeholders in this case could have lobbied to have the bylaw changed, or perhaps adjusted for that particular part of the city. They could have designed one big sign incorporating all of the lot’s businesses, or severed the lot so that each smaller lot could have its own signs.
Instead, they drew up plans for the lot with not one, not two, but three signs in total, including one for a potential future business.
Then, when council challenged them on why they chose to flagrantly thumb their noses at the city’s bylaw, their response was a well-worded shrug that said, “What’s the matter? We thought you liked new business.” And council caved.
So precedence was set; the precedence being how council can expect to deal with new businesses in the future. It’s now been proven that, if you have enough clout, bylaws are not laws at all but simply suggestions; that if they’re inconvenient to you and your bottom line, they can simply be ignored.
Yes. It’s just a sign. But the next multi-national corporate chain that decides to set up shop in Stratford may want more than just a simple sign. And, with the precedence set by council, they’ll likely get it, regardless of what the laws say.