Civic Trust questions proposed sign changes in Saint Andrews - Aug. 15, 2013
The Civic Trust points out that historically speaking, area businesses needed but one or two signs, not the six allowed for in a draft sign bylaw.
Town council was asked Monday night to consider the significant work that went into making Saint Andrews and its downtown a heritage showplace.
A special meeting was held prior to the regular monthly meeting to read and hear objections to amendments to the section of the zoning bylaw dealing with signs.
Barry Murray, president of the Civic Trust (a non-profit group aiming to preserve the heritage of the seaside town) said his comments were not necessarily opposition but rather “pregnant questions that we would hope you would consider in the final drafting.”
He noted that the Civic Trust recently sent a letter to the town’s Business Improvement Association leadership as they prepare to develop a five-year strategic plan expressing the hope that past efforts to preserve the town’s unique look and feel would be continued – especially in the business district.
Murray said the Civic Trust would provide the BIA with copies of the submission made to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board (HSMB) of Canada that resulted in the successful designation of Saint Andrews as a National Historic District.
A quote from the HSMB report reads, “It is rare, in Atlantic Canada, to find a community which so vividly conveys a sense of time and place through its evolution from a fledgling Loyalist town to a vibrant summer resort.
“The abundance of buildings within the town which reflect the influence of the British Classical tradition point very clearly to the enduring heritage of the town through the continuity of its architectural components.”
Murray said the Civic Trust is encouraging the members of the BIA to reflect on the historic elements that form the fabric of this special community and the same offer was being made to town council.
Murray said the bylaw addresses illumination, either internally or externally, without specifically speaking to the desirability or non-desirability of illuminated signs.
“There are many signs currently externally illuminated, appropriate to their use and location, and these will be grandfathered into application. Do we want to open that market to include internally illuminated signs and the attendant questions regarding applications such as neon and LED?”
He showed a photo taken of Water Street in the early 1960s with illuminated signs and even some neon signs noting this was prior to the major investment in underground utilities for the business district.
“When the power went underground, the signs disappeared. A major contributor to the awarding of the Historic District designation.”
Murray illustrated his point showing photographs of two Water Street businesses, both displaying one sign, which alerts visitors to their business/attraction.
At first blush, said Murray, the prohibition of some signs seems a reasonable premise but it may also be problematic.
“It would appear to prohibit painting advertising for example on a building itself, and such a prohibition would serve to protect our heritage buildings from becoming stationary billboards.
“At the same time, many of our buildings were once identified by the name of their business and/or their proprietors boldly displayed. For example, the Mallory Livery Stable sign which has been preserved on the Mallory barn for the last 100-plus years.”
Murray said the Civic Trust is pleased that much of the previous bylaw, which they see as heritage friendly, has been maintained.
“The reference to wood and wood-like signage, the size and number of typefaces and the reference to moderate use of colour all enhance the look and feel of our heritage buildings.”
The Civic Trust’s observations are not intended to deny progress, said Murray, but rather as a reminder of the significant work that went into making the town and its downtown a heritage showplace.
He finished with another quote from the HSMB which concluded that “its Loyalist beginnings, the integrity of its plan, the variety of architectural interpretations of the basic British Classical form reflecting the various stages of the town’s development, and its success as a resort town, combine in a very cohesive manner to create a powerful sense of place.”
After hearing Murray’s presentation, council decided to table the second reading of the bylaw amendments for further review and it will be placed on next month’s agenda.