You win some, you lose some. That was the situation for Home Hardware at Smithers council’s Oct. 8 meeting.
After submitting a Form & Character Development Permit application requesting a number of amendments to their original 2018 permit, Smithers Home Hardware finally got a response from council.
Yes, and no.
Council unanimously approved a request from the new permit application to allow the business to add one “Home Hardware” fascia (permanent) sign on the King Street-facing side of the business, located at 3739 Third St. in Smithers.
They also denied two other requests from the new permit. The first would have allowed the business to replace one mural from the Third Avenue side of the business to a “framed and covered display for use to advertise an event, sale or to display a Community Event Sign.” Another would have let the business change four original murals approved for the King Street-facing side to four fascia signs.
Acting Mayor Frank Wray was opposed to denying the first of the two requests. A motion to deny the latter passed unanimously.
In its report to council, staff had recommended approving the request to replace the mural to a framed display.
“In subsequent communication with the applicant, staff confirmed that the intent of the proposed fascia sign on the east (Third Avenue) exterior wall is to ‘inform customers of current in store/community events.
“If limited to advertising event or sale items and/or community events, as stated by the applicant, the proposed fascia sign on the east exterior would be better categorized as a temporary sign display, similar to the displays at the Roi Theatre … Based on the above, staff supports the request to amend Permit D17-02 to replace one (1) mural on the east facing exterior wall of the building with a display to advertise an event, sale, or to display a ‘Community Event Sign,’ as outlined in Sections 2.1 and 9.3 of Town of Smithers Sign Bylaw No. 1841.”
In a bit of an unusual move for council, there was no discussion on the motion put forth by Coun. Greg Brown and seconded by Coun. Casda Thomas to deny instead of approve the recommendation from staff.
Regarding the second request denied by Council, part of Home Hardware’s rationale for incorporating the four additional fascia was to “meet corporate standards for Home Hardware’s … hardline categories as well as national promotional events.”
However staff did not seem to be buying it in their report to Council, noting there are six Home Hardware locations northwest of Prince George and Town staff have confirmed none of them other than the Smithers location feature such exterior branding. Another assertion by the business was the signage on King Street would enhance building aesthetics and without it the side of the building would look more industrial and potentially invite things such as graffiti, however staff noted compliance with the previously-approved 2018 permit already addressed both those issues.
The Town’s Official Community Plan (OCP) states that sign size, regulation and type “is necessary to set upper limits on business sign competition and to prevent escalation in size.”