Signs advertising grocery stores, RV park, homes for sale and warehouses for lease are all selling different wares but are similar in one regard: They are not supposed to be on the Sea to Sky Highway. At an April 19 meeting, the Squamish Lillooet Regional District board staff proposed removing unauthorized signs from the highway.
With millions of eyeballs travelling on the Sea to Sky Highway, signs are a lucrative business, and SLRD staff are regularly contacted by various billboard companies wanting to post signs along the highway. SLRD staff writes back saying the bylaw prohibits billboards, though some real estate signs and contractor signs are allowed under special regulations. The sign owner can also make an appeal to the Board to allow permission to have a sign that would otherwise contravene the bylaw.
While SLRD is planning to remove the signs this year, it has discussed and acted on the issues of sign pollution along highway since 1999.
The SLRD Board was concerned about the proliferation of billboards along the Highway for ‘esthetic and driver safety’ reasons. There was discussion that “sign pollution” along the Sea to Sky Highway might start to resemble some of the tourist areas in the US, or entry to Kelowna and other communities where billboard signs litter the highways, competing for eyeballs.
In 1999, SLRD adopted a sign bylaws, and staff created an inventory of the existing signs in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, though many of those signs no longer exist. The sign bylaw “grandfathered” signs that were in existence prior to 1999 and outlawed any signs moving forward.
However, there are several illegal signs put up since 1999 and without enforcement, they continue to mushroom. “While staff understand and appreciate the need for economic development in the Sea-to-Sky corridor, there is concern that the corridor will experience sign pollution through ongoing, slow proliferation of illegal signs,” notes the report.