Last year, City of Vancouver undertook a series of stakeholder meetings and conducted an online survey in preparation for making changes to their sign bylaw.  On June 28, 2017, City of Vancouver’s General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Planning released an Administrative Report, a draft of the new proposed sign bylaw along with the proposed fees.

The SAC GR committee has reviewed the proposed bylaw and generally we are very pleased with the changes and additions made to the bylaw.  We feel that the new bylaw reflects information and suggestions we have shared during numerous meetings and workshops we have held with the City’s planning team.  Here are just a few highlights:

Relaxation: The updated sign bylaw has been reformatted to be more user friendly and includes simplified regulations that reflect best practices and, hopefully, will reduce the need for relaxation.  The new bylaw will provide Director of Planning with the authority to administer relaxations to the Sign Bylaw for unnecessary hardship, heritage, special events and new technology.  When we spoke to the planning team, we were assured that the Director of Planning will not be reviewing the appeals alone but rather this will be done in consultation with a design review committee.

Permit Processing: Furthermore, the sign permit application review process will be divided into two streams: simple and complex.  This approach should improve processing times for simple applications that comply with the Sign Bylaw.  At the same time, sign permit applications requiring relaxation can be considered separately in the complex stream.  We emphasized how important speedy permit processing times were to our members and shared with the planning team that we have recently noticed longer permit processing times.  The planning team has promised to review staff processes and how applications are prioritized.  We have been also advised that there will be back-up staff to provide additional resources when there is a high volume of permits.

New Sign Types:   To ensure that the new sign bylaw reflects changes in the new sign making technologies, the bylaw now incorporates several new sign types – including window and electronic signs.

Engineering: Upon reviewing the proposed bylaw, SAC GR team still had some questions regarding which signs needed engineering.  The update is that when it comes to requirements for structural drawings for such signs as: under-canopy, under-awning and small projecting signs, the Planning team is still following up with staff in the City’s building review branch.  We will update our members as soon as we know anything new.

Next steps:

  • The public hearing on the new proposed sign bylaw will take place on July 18, 2017.  If you would like to make a submission to the council, you need to do that by that date.
  • If approved by Council, the new regulations are expected to come into effect, by January 1, 2018