Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Pizza shop owner bitten by new sign rules

Published on

Sarnia’s new sign bylaw has claimed its first victim.

Mateo’s Pizza was told Tuesday it will need to remove its portable street sign on Lakeshore Road or risk being fined, said owner Matt Malott.

“Cities should be helping businesses, not hindering them, “ he said. ‘This is completely and utterly ridiculous. It’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of a city doing to small business.”

The pizzeria at 1119 Lakeshore Rd. has 17.5 metres of street frontage. But under the new rules a business must have 20 metres of frontage for a portable sign.

“So they’re making me take it down because I’m short by two and a half metres,” he fumed.

Malott said he pays $100 a month to rent the sign, making it the most affordable way of letting the public know about his pizza shop.

City hall has told him he could replace the portable with a permanent sign. But installing one with lighting and a new standard and wiring would cost thousands of dollars that he can’t afford, he said.

And by forcing its removal, city hall will lose the $150 paid for a sign permit, he added.

“They’re always complaining about revenue and this city is starving for jobs,” he said. “Why wouldn’t they do something useful instead of this?”

Alan Shaw, Sarnia’s chief building official, said the problem is the size and shape of Matteo’s lot.

It’s not only too narrow, it likely doesn’t meet a new minimum distance requirement between a sign and driveway, he said.

“Unfortunately, the way it’s worked out, he just kind of got caught in the new rules.”

Malott can appeal the decision to Sarnia’s director of planning but Shaw said his chances of success aren’t good.

The bylaw approved by city council on June 30 was the first update in 20 years. It sets restrictions on mobile signs and limits the brightness and speed of electronic message boards, among other things.

Shaw said the city doesn’t expect many businesses to be impacted, noting the frontage rule was reduced in the end to 20 metres from 30 metres at the urging of business.

“We’re going to try to work with people at this time, we’ll try to educate and explain the reasons,” he said.

– George Mathewson






More like this