A miscommunication may have started a rumour that new bike lanes were imminent at Portlock Park, but it’s the long tail of an old plan — and a long-standing annual “tradition” — that’s led to a recent banishment of sandwich board signs there.
Salt Spring’s Capital Regional District (CRD) Parks and Rec manager Dan Ovington said businesses and organizations who had placed the signs had indeed been contacted and asked to remove them. But, he told members of the Local Community Commission (LCC) Thursday, Nov. 23, it’s a process that begins at about this time every year — because staff have enough capacity to follow-up.
“Along the front of Portlock Park on Vesuvius Bay Road, we have a licence of occupation along the roadway,” said Ovington, “a right-of-way, for the purpose of a bike lane.”
But that licence was granted years ago, the culmination of a long effort by local officials and fundraising by Island Pathways that resulted in a “demonstration” dedicated cycling lane along the road fronting the park — Salt Spring’s first such bike lane, which has been in service since it opened in 2000.
And while complaints are received throughout the year about the sandwich boards — sometimes blocking bicycles and forcing them to ride in the roadway, and often obscuring lines of sight for drivers as they approach Salt Spring’s only four-way stop intersection — late fall is the least busy time for CRD staff to meaningfully respond, with a sort of “annual clean-out” process.
Ovington said the CRD sent out notices, and most people removed their signs — although some didn’t, he said, adding that a few had gone out of business since placing them. Staff then removed what was left, and when possible made an effort to reunite the signs with their owners.
“Then we saw a number of them kind of crop back up, and notices went out again,” said Ovington. “What we see is similar to what we see with the derelict boats; one sandwich sign appears, then two, then we have a whole slew of them — signs on the concrete, signs on the grass.”
Staff told LCC members there had been as many as two dozen sandwich boards along the roadway before the most recent effort to clear them.
“We’re not just standing out there policing them, but when things start to build up and we’re getting complaints, we have to take action,” said Ovington, noting that despite the obvious benefit to local businesses and non-profit groups in placing signs, the CRD needed to comply with the terms of the licence of occupation for ministry-owned land.
“The area’s just not for private sandwich boards,” he said.
Commissioners briefly mused upon, but thankfully rejected, a notion to place signs to indicate signs were not allowed.