Local municipalities are concerned about the number of “farm field ads” popping up around the municipality and are looking at the issue with a closer eye.
Leduc County’s director enforcement services, Clarence Nelson said the county council has expressed concern about the number of large billboard-style advertisements popping up around the municipality. The ads are on large sea cans or semi trailers and, in some cases, sitting very close to municipal intersections and roadways.
“We’re dealing with quite a number of them,” said Nelson while on patrol Aug. 7, noting about 15 are around the municipality right now. Nelson stated the large billboard-style ads are not permitted uses in Leduc County. He noted Leduc County Land Use Bylaw #7-08 limits the placement of unauthorized advertisement signs/equipment on display on a parcel (s) of land located without a development permit.
He also stated signage that is approved must be a certain distance from the roadway: 300 meters from a right-of-way and 800 meters from the centre point of an intersecting highway or public roadway.
Nelson noted failure to remove any offending signage may result in additional enforcement or court action taken against both the property owner and the marketing company which owns the sign. Nelson stated some landowners may not know the signs are not permitted and can result in a fine not just for the advertising company, but for the landowner too.
The signs are also regulated along provincial highways. Nelson said there are a number of reasons they are controlled, including sight line issues, distraction in important areas and aesthetic reasons. As he pointed out in one area where four trailers were in close proximity and all of them covered in ads, some county residents have complained about the trailers harming the appearance of the community.
The advertisements, ranging from real estate to restaurants, come from one of any number of marketing companies who are approaching landowners and offering to pay them monthly, often in the thousands of dollars, noted Nelson.
He said councilors have instructed him to make the billboard-style signs a priority when educating the public.
Wetaskiwin County is having much the same issue stated director of planning and economic development David Blades Aug. 10.
“I would believe that it is province-wide,” said Blades by phone, referring to tractor-trailer signs emblazoned with advertisements which are virtually all in violation of the land use bylaw prohibiting unlicensed and unapproved commercial signage..
Blades said Wetaskiwin County recently had a letter of complaint from a local resident who doesn’t like the trailer signs and referred to them as “rusting hulks.” Blades added, “In that sense, they are. Most of them are put up without any permission.”
Blades noted Alberta Transportation used to be quite active in monitoring illegal signage, but it appears the provincial government may not be focusing on that as much and leaving it in the hands of the local municipality.
He said the land use bylaw controls such signs for a n umber of reasons, primarily safety as the trailer signs can affect sight lines and be distracting, and the aesthetics; trailers covered in ads aren’t really attractive.
Blades said he feels most of the people involved in placing the trailers know they are not allowed to do so. “I believe it is something that people know that they would have to get permission for and perhaps this discussion can provide some education on the matter in relation to what signs are allowed subject to approval processes.”