One man is challenging City of Regina administration after city council passed a motion that affects portable signs within city limits.
Stew Fettes, the past president of the Regina Portable Sign Association (RPSA), believes the new sign bylaw has created an inequitable situation for the portable sign industry and for small businesses.
The new sign laws put restrictions on where businesses can post signage like portable signs, including a regulation that requires portable signs and billboards to be at least 30 metres away from permanent billboards.
Fettes was the author of the present 25-year-old sign bylaw, but with the motion receiving all three of its readings by city council in August, all that’s left now is for the provincial government to ratify the bylaw.
When speaking to Fettes over the phone, he consistently referred to a city transit advertising agreement between the city and Vancouver-based Pattison Outdoor as an “absolute monopoly”, which he considers to be illegal. The marketing company and the city struck a five-year deal in July 2018 which grants Pattison advertising on all bus benches, bus shelters, bus wraps and bus interiors within the city.
He noted how Pattison isn’t required to pay a license fee to the city for their 254 bus bench billboards, whereas portable sign companies are asked to pay $44 per year per sign.
Fettes thinks their agreement has created an ‘unfair playing field’ for portable signs.
“Pattison gifted those 254 bench billboards to the City of Regina free of charge, and in return, the city gave them all the revenue from those bench billboards for free. That’s very unfair competition when you’re doing something like that,” said Fettes.
He added how the city has asked Pattison to put up ten bus bench billboards every year and build $600,000 worth of new bus shelters. It turns out to be a win-win situation for both sides since Pattison earns money back from ads while the city collects a big fee, too.
“It’s quite the partnership they have going here,” stated Fettes.
While the city awaits the ratification of the sign bylaw from the provincial government, the Portable Sign Association is preparing for their next steps.
“I’m going to bring a Liberal-style SNC-Lavalin bribery scandal right to the doorstep of Regina City Hall. We’ll settle it in court and I’ll get a trial judge to rule them on this unfair competition that’s going on here.”
The former RPSA president was asked by the organization to assist them with the situation at hand. He sent a package of information to city council and administration, provincial ministers and Premier Scott Moe which included his viewpoints and visual examples.