Weyburn city council voted by a narrow 4-3 margin to reject a request from a businessman to relocate a digital billboard on Highway 13 on the city’s east side, citing concerns of area residents as a factor.
Businessman Dave Hall proposed to move the digital billboard from Gasha’s Grill out to 1940 First Avenue NE, and to have it facing west, with the option to add a second face to look east.
The city received concerns from four households located on Brown Crescent just north of Highway 13; the sign was proposed to be located on the south side of the highway.
Hall told council he initially made the mistake of saying the sign would point north, when he wanted the sign to be perpendicular to the highway, facing east-west. He said with the sign facing this direction, it would not be visible by residents of Brown Crescent, pointing out that Souris Valley Dental’s building would largely block the view of it.
A resident from Brown Crescent spoke to council, and insisted that the sign would be directly visible from her backyard, and she had concerns with the option that city planners had proposed.
Under this option, the developer would be subject to a number of conditions, including that the illumination from the sign be deflected away from residential properties, and there is to be no illumination that would impede vehicular traffic or interfere with traffic signals.
There would also be restrictions on what types of ads would be permitted, such as no animation over 10 seconds in length, and no flashing or strobe lights or live video.
Hall countered the resident’s concerns, saying the nearest residences are over 200 metres away, and insisted that the building for Souris Valley Dental would block any clear view of the billboard. He also pointed out that the sign is light-sensitive, and at night it goes down to eight-per-cent of full power, and that the sign uses low-voltage LED lighting.
Coun. Rob Stephanson agreed that these residences were a long ways away, but noted there will also be new residences developed in that area, and asked if the developer of those properties was informed of this proposal.
Martino Verhaeghe, director of planning and development, said some word had gone out, and noted this proposal has been in circulation for a while now.
“I have trouble supporting this. We have residents in this area we have to protect.
We have other commercial projects in that area; I think there has to be another way to approach this,” said Coun. Dick Michel.
He added that one sign may not be an issue, but there might be four or five applications for such signs in that area if this one was allowed.
Hall pointed out this was unlikely since council would have to approve all of those signs for that to happen.
Mayor Debra Button added she also would not support this request, saying if she owned a home in that area, she wouldn’t want a bright digital billboard within view of her home either.
The Weyburn Fire Department presented their annual report for 2012, and noted among the highlights that the department responded to a total of 274 calls for service which resulted in seven fire-related injuries, and fire losses of over $1.123 million.
Fire Chief Steve Debienne also noted the department grew in strength on the year, going from 26 paid on-call firefighters to 30, plus there was also a pay increase of $1 an hour for the paid on-call firefighters.
The Fire Department worked with STARS air ambulance, establishing a landing zone eight times in 2012. Two incidents were highlighted, including one where Chief Debienne and fire fighter Bill Houghton helped Weyburn EMS deliver premature twins which required CPR to be revived; they are healthy babies today with no effects.
Also, in June, fire fighters responded to a call at an accident at Main Track, and an adult male was found with no pulse. Four fire fighters performed CPR on the man, and the STARS air ambulance took him to hospital; the man is expected to make a full recovery.
The chief also noted there was a rash of arson fires in 2012, and they worked with the city police to solve them, which they were able to do.
In Building Department statistics to the end of August, the city issued 15 permits worth $2.56 million in August, to bring the year’s total to 85 permits worth $20.74 million.
This compares to a year ago when the city had issued 121 permits worth $25.66 million.
Out of this year’s building permits, there are 42 dwelling units being created worth $10.12 million, of which 17 are single family dwellings worth $6.67 million, and 25 multiple family dwellings worth $3.45 million.
Also in August, the City sold three lots, to bring the year’s total sales of lots to 12, compared to 46 a year ago, and 41 two years ago.
A bylaw amendment which would have added a new handicapped parking stall in front of a downtown business was only given two readings, to allow the city to ensure the building’s tenants are informed of the proposed change.
The handicapped parking stall is proposed for Third Street in front of MNP Place, where the new Primary Care Clinic is to be located for the Sun Country Health Region, on the second floor.
Verhaeghe said a letter was sent to the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, but was not sure if all tenants in the former Co-op department store building have been informed of this change.
The bylaw amendment also seeks to add new pedestrian crossing signs, at Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street, and at Park Avenue and 13th Street, which is near St. Michael School. Coun. Laura Morrissette asked if there could also be an increased police presence at this latter location as there was an accident there.