The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen are about to embark on a regional roadside signage clean up.
Jeff Wiseman, District Operations Manager, told the regional board November 21 that Phase one of a three part clean up of roadside signage along Highways 97, 3, and 3A would be getting underway in the next few weeks.
The first phase will concentrate on the southern portion of Highway 97, from Oliver south to the border. The action comes as a result of a board discussion a year ago that concluded with a resolution to enforce the regional district signage bylaw.
Working in conjunction with the ministry, an inventory of signage has since been compiled. All illegally placed signage will be targeted, and the owners of illegally placed signage will be notified of their infraction and asked to remove the sign. Subsequent action, if needed, will be more heavy-handed.
Wiseman made it clear to the board that the ministry’s road side signage policy was simple and clear: “No private signs without a permit on highway right of way.” He also explained to the board that the ministry rarely granted permits. He also noted that the ministry had no jurisdiction on federal lands, including native reserves.
Signage on private property subject to RDOS electoral area or municipal bylaws will also be enforced according to local legislation. The regional district has size restrictions, does not allow third party signage or off premises signs.
Area “B” Director George Bush asked whether large signs that were not in compliance would be grandfathered, noting that many farmers and fruit stands in the Lower Similkameen may not be in compliance. Wiseman replied that the ministry did not have a grandfather clause, although large signs such as the Cawston entrance sign was a permitted use.
The placement of magnetic signs along regional highways was also discussed. Wiseman noted that magnetic sign owners had been “chased” by the ministry until their recent location on reserve land. Letters sent to the band by the ministry had not yet been answered.
Signage enforcement in the Lower Similkameen should begin early in 2014.