Town Council approves new and improved sign by-law

Tue, 11 Dec 2018

New regulations and fees come into effect January 1, 2019

Following an in-depth review and consultation of signs and sign usage, the Town of Oakville is implementing an updated sign by-law containing regulations that better reflect today’s business identification and advertising needs. Effective January 1, 2019, By-law 2018-153 will replace the former Sign By-law 2006-005 including an updated fees list that will be included with the 2019 Rates and Fees schedule.

“This new 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.”

All aspects of the by-law including format, function and standards were evaluated. Highlights of the town’s new sign by-law include:

  • Improved format and web presence — easy to use tables based on specific uses and land use designations (now aligned with the town’s Official Plan) make the by-law easier to navigate and more understandable. A user friendly companion document with visuals, definitions as well as interactive mapping can also be found online.
  • Better capturing of sign types — more detailed sign regulations can be grouped into several categories including permanent or temporary signs; signs for certain motor vehicle-related land uses; development and real estate signs; community signs on town property; and signs incorporating new technology.
  • Recognition of new technology — businesses are now provided additional flexibility in advertising through Static Electronic Message Boards (SEMBs). The current by-law only permits SEMBs on ground signs for public schools and government institutions, and only permits the electronic display of time and temperature. Under the new by-law electronic message signs are permitted on a broader basis and include regulations around illumination levels depending on the time of day. 
  • Upheld advertising sign regulations — the town’s designated employment areas will continue to be the appropriate area for signs which are used to advertise goods or services not related to the premises.
  • Enhanced exceptions and amendments process — to simplify the process for the client, applicants seeking changes to sign regulations will now have options available according to the impact of the change being requested. The new options for changes include exceptions, appeals and amendments.
  • New notification and confirmation process — permanent sign applicants must now provide notification followed by as-built confirmation of sign installation so staff can better monitor the installation process and ensure signs have been installed safely as approved.
  • Updated enforcement process — Enforcement processes have been updated and streamlined by including orders and administrative fees. A $100 fee will be charged for second and subsequent orders issued to the same property, when there has been no change in property ownership. 
  • Revised sign permit fees — the fees are set to achieve full cost recovery for the sign program.

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, as staff were directed to report back to the Planning and Development Council on the feasibility of adding additional community mobile sign locations in each ward. Staff will also be reviewing election sign regulations.

Sign by-law 2006-005 has been in effect since 2006 and has undergone multiple amendments that have affected the regulation of various sign types including elections signs, mobile signs, fascia signs and advertising signs. In 2016, Council directed staff to undertake a review of the sign by-law and consult with the public on sign regulations.

Visit to review the Sign By-Law Review staff report from the December 10, 2018, Planning and Development Council.