Ruth Aspinall says the town should allow shops on side streets to keep their signs. The signs have increased revenue for many businesses on the side streets. Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has reinstated its ban on A-fame signs on Queen Street.

In a news release, the town notified heritage district business owners in the Queen-Picton zone that the sign bylaw will be enforced again.

A-frame signs, also known as sandwich boards, were temporarily allowed in 2020 to help struggling businesses through the pandemic.

The town’s sign bylaw has been in place since Oct. 9, 2012, and the A-frame restriction began at that time, town spokesperson Marah Minor said in an email to The Lake Report.

Ruth Aspinall from Art Space 106 says businesses along Queen Street don’t need A-frame signs, but businesses along the side streets do.

“I think they should be permitted for side-street businesses only,” she said.

“We need help on the side streets,” she added.

She said she doesn’t get nearly the amount of traffic as her other store, Serendipity, which is a few doors down from Art Space 106.

Art Space 106 is technically at 106 Queen St., but its entrance is down Victoria Street.

She has a weighted sign that the town previously approved at the corner of Queen and Victoria pointing toward Art Space.

Since it’s weighted, it doesn’t blow over.

Her sign is not in the A-shaped and might be considered a mobile sign.

But the town’s website states mobile signs are also illegal in the Queen-Picton zone.

The town’s news release says if any business in the Queen-Picton district has an illegal sign owners can be fined $350.

“Every day I expect the town to come along and confiscate it,” said Aspinall.

A-frame signs fold out into the shape of an A, or like a sandwich, and can be moved easily. Mobile signs are considered ones that can be easily moved from one spot to another without the use of a vehicle.

Aspinall said she sees a lot of people walk down Queen Street, but few turn down the side street where her store is.

“That’s just typical of side-street businesses, anywhere. It’s not peculiar to Niagara-on-the-Lake,” she said.

Still, she believes the town needs to do something to help out businesses that may be hidden from view.

Businesses like Art Space 106 are taxed the same as businesses along Queen Street, even though the latter get much higher foot traffic.

She’d like the town to approve proper, professionally made signage that shops along side streets can put out on the corners.

Every business also needs a heritage permit and a sign permit prior to display, except temporary signs, which require a sign permit only, the town statement said.

The town says A-frame signs are a tripping hazard.

“Such signage has the potential to pose a safety hazard to pedestrians, especially during busy seasons when sidewalks and surrounding areas are quite crowded,” said Minor.

Coun. Maria Mavridis agreed A-frame signs could be a potential safety concern.

“Almost 25 years ago, somebody actually fell over one and hurt themselves,” she said.

According to Minor, the town has not received any recent calls about tripping incidents as a result of A-frame signs.

St. Catharines resident Simon Koop pointed out that anything could be considered a tripping hazard.

“Businesses should be able to advertise if they’re not on the strip,” he said.

The town also wants to make sure the heritage district keeps its natural streetscape and doesn’t become cluttered with signs and distract visitors from the area’s heritage elements, said Minor.

Mavridis noted it’s important to keep the streets looking clean and clear.

“Sometimes you get three or four on one corner,” she said.

However, Mavridis wants to see something other than the arrows indicating that there are “more shops this way” on the poles at the corners of the side streets.

The signs are small and are easily be missed.

“We need help,” said Aspinall.

By Somer Slobodian, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 26, 2023 at 16:47

This item reprinted with permission from   The Lake Report   Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

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