Letter: Town has the right to regulate signage

Letter: Town has the right to regulate signage


I have been considering the language in the editorial published in the Oliver Chronicle June 27 and thinking about how to respond because it does require one.

The editorial misrepresents the fact that it is a municipality’s right to regulate businesses and the signage businesses are allowed to use, and that all municipalities in B.C. are given this power under the B.C. Community Charter and the Local Government Act which define the core authority of local governments and guide decision-making. 

The municipality may enforce any bylaw at its discretion, based on priorities it determines and/or the right of any citizen to request compliance sooner than the municipality might otherwise have acted. It serves the common good to have our laws respected and obeyed. Seeking that end is reason enough for any good citizen to act, so why would the writer take a stand in which he announced that “whoever squealed was probably pro-park” and went on to engage in various speculations based on no evidence whatsoever that were clearly intended to denigrate that citizen? Did the writer bother to consult the town’s corporate officer in order to better understand why these bylaws are written or to poll other business owners on Main Street for their opinions on the matter at hand?

In fact, this editorial fails to show due regard and respect for every business owner who has abided by our town’s laws, and does so by taking the side of a scofflaw who was either ignorant of or intentionally ignored his duty to comply with the bylaw. Ignorance of the law is not a defence in a court of law, nor is claiming that your “freedom of speech” has been infringed upon when you breached a provision in an agreement you made with the Town requiring you to obey signage regulations as part of obtaining a business license. Yet the heading above this editorial declares in bold print “Town May Have Over-stepped Boundaries” and it ends with calling the bylaw “a dumb rule.” Clearly the Town did not overstep, nor is it a dumb rule. “Main Street,” meaning all types of commerce within the Town, is open to do business, not to act as a billboard for any and every opinion anyone may want to express, which may, incidentally, drive away customers, including tourists, who just want to go shopping, not find themselves unwillingly in the middle of some sort of unpleasantness or discord.           

The rest of this editorial is equally offensive for various reasons, by taking pot shots at a variety of issues and speculating on topics totally off the topic of the town correcting a relatively minor bylaw infraction with a small $100 fine for failure to comply. Such meanderings were then topped off by an unwarranted attack on Dollarama and its colour scheme. Years ago there was concern about the Buy-Low paint colours that were on this same building. They were a very bright yellow but they were Buy-Low’s corporate colours so it was decided that the matter was best left alone; it is not good policy for a town to pick fights with corporations worth more than the Town’s entire annual budget. Townspeople are glad to have the new Buy-Low, and considering the number of people, myself included, who frequent Dollarama to buy its “made-in-China” inventory, we want to keep its doors open as well. 

I will not make a list of all the other uninformed, insulting or rude speculations and opinions expressed in this editorial; I will just say it should never have been published.    

Celia Newman


  1. My comment still stands. If the business owner wishes to continue posting the sign and gets a fine I will contribute to his fine payment.

  2. Why did the writer take a stand in which he announced that “whoever squealed was probably pro-park”?
    Perhaps because bylaw stated that they were acting on a complaint made by an individual against 2 businesses which were displaying no park signs?

  3. You go Celia. Time someone stood up for common sense and the abidance of regulations that the business licence granted. The signage should tell what service or product the business if offering not their social or political opinions.