The issue of whether or not to allow signs along Hwy 12 and 56 through town has been an issue in Stettler for almost a decade and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
In 2010 and 2014 looked at survey results. In 2010 and 2014 the majority – 86 per cent and 81 per cent respectively – were in favour of portable signs.
But the opinion of town residents seems to be shifting against allowing signs.
Stettler town council tabled second reading of the proposed bylaw re-designating land along Hwy 12 through town identifying it as parkland, meaning no portable or inflatable signs would be allowed.
The town received 19 letters of support of the bylaw and six letters opposed. In addition, about 25 people attended a public hearing on the issue Sept. 4 to voice their concerns. Six spoke against the bylaw and one spoke in favour.
The bylaw proposes redesignating the land from 5804 – 47 Ave. to 5100 – 47 Ave. preventing portable or inflatable signs.
“I’m in favour of signs there but in favour of limiting the number and limiting them to non-profit,” said Pat Hamilton during the public hearing.
Likewise, Dave Goodwin said he opposed the bylaw and the town should allow non-profits to advertise.
“I believe strongly we need those signs along that area.”
Goodwin said Stettler serves 40,000 people in the region, including the east country and north, and the signs reach people as they travel through town.
“They are too important to our community.”
But Betty Stokoe said the signs aren’t effective saying her church group was told by a resident that she didn’t even notice their sign.
“Too much of the same thing can have this effect,” said Stokoe.
She added that if the signs are removed from Hwy 12 she hopes they aren’t moved to Hwy 56.
Darryl Rachar of Magnetsigns Stettler said a solution might be to have no signs in the school zone.
“This is something we could live with and is a good compromise.”
Those opposed cited reasons such as they make the town look “desperate,” “not vibrant” and “junky.”
“Those signs are very ugly and are distracting,” said Marilyn Heintz.
“These signs are tacky and take away from the beauty,” said Linda Day.
Many also expressed safety concerns.
“It’s a school zone for the majority of the space, people should be paying attention to the road and not those signs,” said Darrin Bosomworth.
Indeed, the issue certainly is a hot-button issue in Stettler that elicits strong emotions either for or against.
“I hate all the portable signs that are all over town and if we can get rid of a few I support that,” said Brandi Roper.
“To be frank they are ugly and detract from the clean natural environment that is characteristic of a small town,” said Gayle Thoun.
The signs being used by the local sign business for profit are on town-owned land and the town incurs the costs of mowing under and around the signs.
Still, some believe the town should help local businesses.
“Advertising is a huge part of running a business and I think the town should support business advertising rather than discouraging it,” said Ralph Wiebe.