By Mark Squibb | Jan. 14, 2021
When Bay Roberts’ director of tourism and economic development, Ron Delaney, opened his email inbox one day this past November, probably the last thing he expected to see was a message from Digital Government and Services NL alleging non-complaint signage along the highway entrance into Bay Roberts — especially seeing as the signs have been standing there for over a decade.
“All of a sudden, all of the signs that lead into our Town via LT Stick Drive are non-complaint, or, as they say, illegal,” said Delaney. “Which I find puzzling, which would be one word for it, for the simple fact that, because up by the TCH we’ve been adhering to their policies for a number of years, but as you come down through the main area leading into LT Stick, I’m going to venture to say that for 15 years we’ve had signs there. Right from the Summer Games, which is in partnership with the provincial government, right down to tourism, and our ‘Why Litter?’ campaign, which started around 12 or 14 years ago. And now, all of a sudden they want us to take them down, and they’re only giving us 30 days to take them down.”
His recommendation was to send a letter back looking for policy clarifications.
Delaney also wondered if there were other communities suddenly finding themselves dealing with a similar issue.
“Our signs are very neat and respectful and help our business community and let people know what’s going on within our community,” he said.
Councillor Dean Franey recommended asking MHA Pam Parsons to have a look at the situation, and shared some of the sentiments expressed by Delaney.
“It’s kind of annoying, actually, because for the Summer Games one, for example, the reason (being given for taking it down) is ‘this business is not tourism related.’ The Summer Games is a provincial government sanctioned event, awarded by the provincial government, and now a provincial government department is saying you can’t advertise a provincial government sanctioned event,” said Franey.
Deputy Mayor Walter Yetman said it should be pointed out to the department that Bay Roberts is a municipal government, not a business, as stated in the letter.
Councillor Frank Deering said he felt the request was more about applying to have the signs registered, than having them taken down.
“I hope it’s as simple as that, but to give us only 30 days after having them up for 14 years is a little bit silly in my mind,” said Delaney. “Especially at this time of year, when we don’t have a lot of staff on to go deal with the issue. We’re not not going to do it; it just seems awful funny that it’s coming at this time in November when we’re getting into the winter season when we have most of our staff laid off.”
He noted that one of the signs dates back to before 2007. So far as he knew, there was no change of policy that would suddenly make the signs non-complacent.
“I’m thinking it’s more of a change of staff more than anything. It just seems funny to give us such a tight timeline of 30 days after 14 years,” he said.
The letter, which had requested that the town submit design applications for the signs, was dated November 16, which would means the signs would have had to be removed within a month of that date.
“I would submit the applications and afterwards phone the MHA,” said Mayor Philip Wood, suggesting a plan that was quickly voted on and approved by council.
Several other councillors noted their dislike at the use of the word ‘illegal’ being used to describe the signs.