Call it a sandwich board brouhaha in downtown London.
City by-law officers launched an enforcement blitz early this week on the advertising placards that are put in front of many businesses to promote sales or products.
Gordon Mood owns LA Mood on Richmond and said he’s complied with the sign by-law for years, making sure he was properly licenced and had insurance to cover having the sign on city property.
He believes this isn’t a very business friendly approach.
“We do pay taxes, and our taxes are supposed to go to people who are supposed to be on our side but I guess, that assumption is incorrect,” said Mood. “They didn’t really tell us anything about what was going on.”
Their sign was taken on Tuesday and thought they were in the clear for licensing.
“A lot of us are under the assumption that it was going to be the same way it was always done, which was proof of insurance and basically it was a routine default renewal that you did every year, but apparently they’ve changed that.”
City By-law Manager Orest Katolyk said they told businesses they’d be cracking down on sandwich board rules in April.
“Our officers actually went door-to-door and delivered packages to the businesses in the downtown area, indicating the need for a licence if you’re putting a sign on city property for the purposes of risk, health and safety, and liability to the city,” said Katolyk.
Katolyk noted there’s a simple but pricey procedure to get the signs back.
“They pay the $175 fee, they can get the board back, but they should get the sign licenced and include a copy of their insurance,” he said.
Katolyk added they have to make sure the signs aren’t obstructing the path of people who have mobility issues.
Councillor Tanya Park, who represents the downtown area, acknowledged the situation could have been handled better.
“I think that there’s room for improvement there, that perhaps there could be another warning where we actually encourage business owners to remove the sign again before we go that other piece, but like I said, when it comes to enforcement that’s really outside of Council’s scope,” said Park.
She sympathized with business owners, but insisted the by-law is necessary.
“The by-law is in place to keep members of the public safe and also to limit liability of business owners,” Park said. “If you’re walking down the street and there is a sandwich board is a few feet ahead of you and a giant gust of wind comes and that sign knocks into you, you’re going to want to sue someone, that’s my guess. But if the business owner is insured, there is no longer a liability issue.”