New sign by-law for 2019

New sign by-law for 2019
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Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw is the Manager of Corporate Communication for the town of Oakville since 2002. Prior to working for the town she worked for Halton Region as a communications specialist. She is a graduate of Humber College.

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Following an in-depth review and consultation of signs and sign usage, an updated sign by-law takes effect on January 1, 2019.  The regulations reflect today’s business identification and advertising needs.

By-law 2018-153 replaces the former Sign By-law 2006-2005. The change includes an updated 2019 Rates and Fees schedule.

In effect since 2006 Sign by-law 2006-005  has undergone multiple amendments that  affected the regulation of various sign types including:

  1. elections signs
  2. mobile signs
  3. fascia signs
  4. advertising signs

“This new sign by-law reflects two years of thorough public consultation and review,” said Mayor Rob Burton. “It ensures the town’s regulations address the needs of local businesses while managing visual clutter, ensuring public health and safety, and preserving Oakville’s unique character and streetscape compatibility.”

The town evaluated all aspects of the sign by-law including format, function and standards.

New sign by-law highlights

Improved format and web presence

Available online are easy to use tables. They make the by-law easier to navigate and understand. They are based on specific uses and land use designations aligned with the Official Plan.

A user-friendly companion document with visuals, definitions as well as interactive mapping can also be found online.

Better capturing of sign type

Grouped into several categories detailed sign regulations cover:

  1. permanent or temporary signs
  2. signs for certain motor vehicle-related land uses
  3. development and real estate signs
  4. community signs on town property
  5. signs incorporating new technology

Recognition of new technology

Now, businesses are provided more flexibility in advertising through Static Electronic Message Boards (SEMBs).

The current by-law only permits free standing SEMBs for public schools and government institutions and those only permit the display of time and temperature.

The new by-law permits for a wider use of electronic message signs. It includes regulations around illumination levels depending on the time of day.

Upheld advertising sign regulations

Designated employment areas continue as an appropriate area for signs used to advertise goods or services not related to the premises.


Enhanced exceptions and amendments process

According to the impact of the change, applicants requesting changes have options.

The new change options include: exceptions, appeals and amendments.

New notification and confirmation process

Applications for permanent signs must give notification, followed by as-built confirmation of sign installation. This allows staff to quickly check the installation process for compliance and safety.

Updated enforcement process

Updated and streamlined enforcement processes includes orders and administrative fees.

A $100 fee will be charged for second and additional orders issued to the same property, when there has been no change in property ownership.

Revised sign permit fees

Fees achieve full cost recovery for the sign program.

In addition, Council directed staff to revise the new by-law to increase real estate open house directional signs from three to five per open house.

Community mobile signs will be further reviewed in 2019. The staff were directed to report back to the Planning and Development Council on the feasibility of adding more community mobile sign locations in each ward.

Staff will also be reviewing election sign regulations.

A review of the sign by-law and consult with the public on sign regulations began in 2016.

More information available at


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