Virden Home Hardware owner Joe Careme appeared before town council last week to ask permission to mount over 100 business signs on store property.
Instead, he got a list of conditions and the okay for 17 signs.
Careme had requested a bylaw variation that would allow the hardware and building materials retailer to rent out space on its security fences for 4’ by 8’ advertising signs. The 6’ high chain link fencing runs along Home Hardware’s property on both sides of Sixth Ave. and along King St.
Careme says the idea got going when he posted a banner for the musical Mamma Mia! Several people suggested he make more space available on the fence for business signs.
“We just want to promote the businesses in our community,” said Careme. “We need growth.”
But the Town of Virden’s Development Officer, Cory Nixon, expressed concern about the high number of signs being proposed and the distraction they could cause for drivers, being so close to a busy intersection and railway crossing.
At a recent council meeting, he referred to the “corridor” effect created by signs facing each other on both sides of Sixth Ave. “If you can’t read one sign before reaching the next one, you’ll be watching signs and not the road.”
Then there’s the matter of esthetics.
“Junk up the street”
One resident in the area wrote the town to object, saying the signs would “junk up the street and have an impact on the value of my property.”
Tiffany Cameron attended the council meeting as the chair of the Virden Boost Committee. She did not speak against the application, only reminded councillors of the Boost Report, which recommends a heritage look and feel for downtown Virden including its signage.
Nixon recommended council require Home Hardware to scale down its plan to one sign per 50’ of frontage, saying, “Four signs on a 50’ lot is more than the town is used to. We usually see just one sign in that size lot.”
He suggested other conditions: that Careme ensure the signs are esthetically pleasing, that he consults with the Boost committee, and that he gets the content of the signs approved by Council.
Councillors approved those conditions and gave permission for 17 signs instead of the requested 104.
Careme was satisfied and told council he already has ten applicants wanting to rent space on his fence for advertising.