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Portable sign fees too high: sign association

Portable sign group points out St. Albert fees higher than other nearby municipalities

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am

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Members of the Alberta Portable Signs Association pleaded with council to reconsider the permit fees required for their signs on Monday.

“I’m disappointed with the lack of fairness and discrimination when it comes to signage,” said Greg Pawlechko, a representative of the Sign Guru and a member of the association.

Harmen Pogge, the president of the association and the owner of Effective Signs and Graphics, and Aman Gillani, the vice president of the association and of Alberta Sign Rentals, were also there and addressed council.

“Please understand that we are not just representing the association up here today. We are also representing business owners of St. Albert who use this product and find it beneficial,” Gillani said.

Pogge pointed out his association has worked with many nearby municipalities on their portable sign permit fees. Now they need to focus on St. Albert.

“The cost of business continues to rise in St. Albert,” Pogge said. “The City of Edmonton is just down the road and is open for business.”

The group’s comments come as the 2014 permit fees are set to go into effect in a few weeks. The fee for a 90-day permit for portable signs will be $225 per sign, whereas the permit for permanent signs is $212.

It’s an increase from the $206 fee in 2013 and much higher than the $50 fee that was in place in 2008. Edmonton has an annual fee that’s only slightly more expensive than a 90-day permit in St. Albert, Pogge pointed out. In 2013 an annual permit for portable signs in Edmonton was $245.

“We have never been consulted,” Pogge said.

Pawlechko pointed out the retroactive permit fee, which will be $371 in 2014. He asked that precedent be followed and the extra money penalty not be applied.

“The only reason my company exists is because I’m asked to be here,” Pawlechko said.

“On top of it all, my biggest customer is the City of St. Albert,” he said, adding he finds it hypocritical the city uses portable signs to get their messages out but restricts how businesses can use the signs.

Pogge said portable signs offer a way for businesses to directly market to customers. He also took issue with the chamber of commerce’s LED signs on St. Albert Trail.

“All we ask is for a level playing field and the right to do business,” Pogge said.

Coun. Tim Osborne asked whether the city has considered annual permits, and whether or not any feedback had been heard through economic development. He was told no feedback, good or bad, had been heard directly.

Coun. Sheena Hughes asked if, when a backgrounder on the portable sign issue is provided to council, a cost analysis could be completed on how much it would cost to do an annual permit versus a quarterly one. She suggested a survey of businesses to see what they think might be worthwhile.

While council did not go farther than an information request to city staff on the issue Monday night, during budget deliberations Coun. Cam MacKay withdrew a motion to reduce fees for permanent and portable signs to $200, saying that was a policy discussion rather than a budget one.

The Alberta Portable Signs Association had also made their concerns known during the recent municipal election, with some of their member companies offering support to candidates open to listening to their concerns about the rising fees.


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