Crystal Schick/Yukon News Parking attendent Const. Ouellet writes up a parking ticket, with an option to pay the fine in food donations, on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. Parking attendant writes up a parking ticket. Black Press file photo

Kelowna Chamber of Commerce reacts to new fees

The chamber wants to stick with a complaint-driven approach

The Kelowna Chamber is concerned that the city’s consideration of hiring additional bylaw officers to enforce the revised sign bylaw could add costs to the city’s budget and set the stage for continual increases in fees and taxes.

“This change is just a small example of how incremental changes occur within operations that in isolation don’t seem to be that large; but when the cumulative impact of many such changes are considered,” said Carmen Sparg, chamber president. “The outcome is usually an inevitable increase in taxes that is above the rate of inflation.”

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that taxes go up when there have been numerous incremental decisions made that have led to that outcome,” said Sparg. “We understand that the proposed increase in taxes (of 4.4%) is required to maintain current services while also addressing the infrastructure deficit, but we continue to encourage the city, and all other levels of government for that matter, to consider the cumulative impact to taxpayers who are getting hit with tax increases and hikes in fees and other levies at every turn.”

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On the issue of the revised sign bylaw, the chamber had been encouraging the city to continue to take a complaint-driven approach to enforcement of sign bylaw infractions. That approach is the most cost-effective way to deal with offenses since they are acted upon only when there is a complaint. It also ensures bylaw officers focus on those issues that are of most concern to the community; those issues where there is a health or safety concern and where most of the complaints come from. The city’s own data, communicated orally to the chamber in meetings, shows there have been very few complaints received that were related to mobile signs and potential bylaw infractions.

“This seems to be a desire to regulate mobile sign companies out of business and the business community has shown they believe mobile signs are valuable in promoting their products and services to the public,” said Sparg. “There may be some that don’t like the visual aspect of the mobile signs, but the reality is the market place has shown there is a demand for that type of short-term signage and it’s in fact helping small businesses and various sports and youth organizations that have a limited advertising budget get their message out to the public.”

The chamber has provided numerous suggestions with respect to revising the sign bylaw and appreciates that some of those suggestions were considered in the final bylaw put before Council including stepping back from a total ban of mobile signs and refraining from regulating the allowable colours for such signs.

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