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Friday, 19 October 2012 09:03

Swift Current Council defers temporary sign bylaw until after election

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Council deferred a final decision on the adoption of a new bylaw to regulate the use of temporary signs in Swift Current after concerns were raised over potential cost implications for local businesses.

Councillors approved a motion at a regular council meeting on Oct. 15 to allow for the discussion of the bylaw at the next strategic planning session before it is tabled again.
This was the final meeting of the current council before the Oct. 24 civic election. This bylaw will therefore be one of the first items to be considered by the incoming council.
“I’m not opposed to the fee for a sign or permits, but I don’t want to price us out of the market and I don’t want to hurt a local business,” Councillor Gord Budd said. “So for the first time in the nine years I’ve been on council, I would like to table this motion so that the future council could maybe have a little more time to discuss it and investigate it a bit more.”
The decision came after councillors listened to a submission by co-owners Graham Parsons and Deanne Larson of Signs ‘n Such during a public hearing on the proposed bylaw.
Parsons said the municipalities of Estevan, Esterhazy, Kindersley, Medicine Hat, Melfort, Moose Jaw and Yorkton currently have no permit fees for portable signs. He added that the proposed permit fee change for portable signs from $25 for six months to $50 per month or $300 for six months will be an increase of 1,100 per cent.
“We checked with several of our existing and past customers, many of whom would view this kind of increase as an unwarranted business tax,” he said.
Director of Engineering Mac Forster told council that other communities are considering the use of fees to regulate signage. The City’s intention is to use the income from these permit fees to cover the cost of bylaw enforcement.
Speaking after the meeting, Forster said the City will follow a discretionary approach to temporary signage until the proposed bylaw is passed.
“In the interim we will essentially utilize all the regulations that were in the former bylaw along with what we’re proposing,” he explained. “We’ll use discretion in administering where signs are placed and for how long because the duration is going to be quite short before the bylaw is passed.”
Sidewalk local improvement program for 2013
Council approved the local improvement program schedule for the reconstruction of deteriorating sidewalk curbs and gutters during 2013.
There is about 182 kilometres of concrete sidewalk in the city, of which a significant portion was constructed between the mid 1950s and early 1970s. A sidewalk has a lifespan of approximately 40 to 50 years.
Forster said the City has replaced an average of 1.2 kilometres of sidewalk per annum during the past five years. Sidewalk replacement cost is shared on a 50/50 basis between the City and abutting property owners on the frontage of properties. The City pays the full replacement cost for sidewalks along the flankage of any property.
If more than half of property owners petition against a sidewalk project, the construction will not proceed. Forster said it is typical for almost 50 per cent of sidewalk improvement projects to be petitioned out.
“Where we feel it’s a liability issue we would proceed with that reconstruction project on what is known as a non-petitionable local improvement,” he noted.
Council also approved a notice of motion for an amendment to the City’s local improvement works bylaw that will allow for increased frontage rates. Forster said the cost of concrete is increasing about five per cent annually.
The combined concrete sidewalk, curb and gutter replacement rate on paved streets will increase from a 2011 cost of $260 per metre to an estimated $287 per metre in 2013.
Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame agreement
Council approved a five-year agreement between the City and the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame (SHHOF) board of directors for the operation of the facility, which is located in the Credit Union iPlex.
The agreement includes a capital repayment plan, monthly rent of $540 and arrangements for maintenance and insurance. The SHHOF will provide an operator to manage the facility and the City will be responsible for building maintenance, access to public areas and the cost of utilities.
In 2010 the City agreed to initially cover the capital expense as a means to expedite the project and to ensure its location in Swift Current. Director of Recreation and Parks Dean Robson said the intention is that the capital expense be repaid in full over the five year period.
“We’re pretty proud of it,” he said about the hall of fame. “Internally we look to do a lot of attraction when we host conferences – not just parks, recreation, tourism and culture conferences but even business conferences to line up a tour.”
The inaugural induction ceremony took place on July 28. The hall of fame is now open on a regular basis for public viewing. Hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Swift Current Bronco game nights from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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