Residents object to signage, citing visual pollution
By Erin Knutson
City of Fernie council moved to support the application for a sign variance (Development Variance Permit No. 455) on behalf of a new Circle K convenience store and Esso fuel station at 98 Riverside Way despite objections of neighbouring residents during a second informal hearing at Monday’s (Feb. 10) meeting.
“We are disappointed to be before you again, concerning this issue. We looked at the subsequent studies, and we looked at the additional information provided, and it left us with more questions than answers—there is such a lack of clarity for us. We ask you not to approve this variance tonight,” said Fernie residents Cindy Pearson and Steve Thomson.
The applicant’s proposed signage was not in compliance with the City of Fernie Sign Bylaw No. 1888, and a request was made to council to amend variances to continue with the project.
The proposal included increases in the number, size, and visual aesthetics of the signs to meet the applicant’s objectives.
Several letters of objection were issued to mayor and council as residents stated concerns at the podium, not only about signage issues but about the arrival of the gas station itself.
“As a Fernie citizen, who lives very close to this development (Pinnacle Ridge), I do not want this proposal approved. I have lived in this area for quite some time and have appreciated all it has to offer. With the extra signage and lighting, I feel it will dramatically change this area and will increase the light pollution and visual disturbance,” said Lindsey Mucha.
Of the five written submissions opposing the variance, concerns included lack of public consultation, size, and placement of signs, the use of multimedia signs, and impacts on the architectural character of Fernie.
City Planning Technician Derek Cimolini and a Circle K spokesperson sought to assuage concerns of residents by presenting additional information on the site with the recommendation that the proposed changes would provide minimal impact to the area.
“It is common for gas station and convenience store businesses to contain more than the allowable number of signs. In this case, the administration believes the proposed number of signs is reasonably consistent with similar uses in Fernie and does not create an undue impact on the surrounding area,” said a city staff report.
Lead image: Plan drawing of the proposed signage, from City of Fernie council agenda.