Sandwich Boards are the Popup Ads of the Physical World

Although I am loathe to suggest anything that would limit freedom of expression, I think the sandwich board situation in Charlottetown is a little out of control, and there are issues of accessibility to consider separate and apart from the freedom of businesses to hawk their wares. Take the southeast corner of Queen and Richmond, for example, at the head end of Victoria Row: there are 6 sandwich board signs in the photo below, and if you were to look slightly to the right there are an additional four on the sidewalk.

Sandwich Boards at Queen and Richmond

I’m sure that if questioned the businesses would claim the need to direct tourist traffic their way; surely, though, we could come up with a coordinated method of achieving that goal.

I’ve not been able to parse the City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw enough to understand what the law says on this topic; section 5.12 says:

No more than two (2) Signs, other than Facia Signs, Shall be Erected on any premises at any one time, and this includes a sandwich board Sign in the DMU Zone or on any City right-of-way.

Section 5.15.6 goes on to say:

Sandwich Signs Shall be permitted in all commercial, business Office, business Park, mixed Use, institutional, and industrial zones provided that:

  1. it is the only Sandwich Sign on the Lot;
  2. it does not obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic or impede visibility of pedestrians or traffic accessing the Lot;
  3. in the DMU zone, it does not exceed a single-faced area of 0.6 sq. m (6.4 sq. ft.), and in all other permitted zones, a single-face area Shall not exceed 1.2 sq. m (12.9 sq. ft.);
  4. in the DMU zone, it May be placed on the City right-of-way provided that it is located in front of the Building but not on a City sidewalk and it does not obstruct pedestrian or vehicular traffic or impede visibility of pedestrians or traffic accessing the Lot;
  5. if the Sign meets the size requirements of this subsection, Council May permit one (1) Sign per season on a Street corner for Buildings not located on an arterial or collector Street or require a group Sign with all Owners on one Sign; and
  6. the applicant Shall carry liability insurance satisfactory to the City.

I’m not sure how to relate “premises” (with a limit of 2 signs) to “zones” (with a limit of a single sign) in this language.

The City’s own Awareness Guide to Accessibility for Persons with Physical Challenges (PDF) weighs in on the issue, however, with this helpful illustration of the hazards of sandwich boards placed where people expect to be able to walk:


Rob Lantz's picture
Rob Lantz on June 19, 2012 - 19:13 Permalink

Last week I sent a letter, excerpts from the bylaw regarding sandwich boards and supporting photos to the Victoria Row Merchants Association. Included in the package was a similar photo of the sandwich boards that I took myself from a slightly different angle.

The letter also dealt with the accessibility problems created on the public right-of-way (i.e. sidewalk) between the buildings and the patio tables all along Victoria Row. The bylaw enforcement officer has been asked to follow up.

Morgan Roderick's picture
Morgan Roderick on June 19, 2012 - 20:16 Permalink

Bring a damp cloth and chalk, and write your own messages on the boards?

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on June 19, 2012 - 21:48 Permalink

Or perhaps just install my own “did you know those other sandwich boards are breaking the law?” sandwich board.

alexander's picture
alexander on June 19, 2012 - 21:52 Permalink

Everyone should just go ahead and move any of these that are blocking the walking path on the sidewalk off to the side in front of a nearby tree planter or parking meter.

Rob Lantz's picture
Rob Lantz on June 20, 2012 - 15:37 Permalink

Good idea. The Bylaw Enforcement Officer is in fact a member of the CPS. They could easily post these bylaw citations. I sent three complaints to him yesterday. He acted on all of them.