Directors approve Predator Ridge sign

A sign identifying a Vernon neighbourhood may finally receive an official blessing.

A sign identifying a Vernon neighbourhood may finally receive an official blessing.

On Wednesday, the North Okanagan Regional District’s five electoral area directors unanimously gave third reading to a zoning text change that would permit two community identification signs for Predator Ridge and Sparking Hill.

“This is such an important business and they’ve done a beautiful job,” said Cherryville director Eugene Foisy.

“They will be there whether there is a sign or not so why would we make things difficult?”

A bylaw amendment is required because NORD does not permit off-premises signs and while Predator Ridge and Sparking Hill are within Vernon’s limits, the sign location at Bailey Road and Highway 97 is in the BX-Swan Lake electoral area.

If approved, the bylaw change would sanction the present sign, which was constructed a decade ago without permission. A second sign would be constructed so it can be seen from southbound motorists.

“What was done in the past is in the past and we’re trying to fix that and make it legal,” said Brent Ree, Predator Ridge real estate general manager, of the zoning text process.

While some residents have suggested lights at the sign will be distracting for motorists and lead to accidents, Ree says the goal is to improve safety.

“Sometimes it’s difficult for people to find their way (to Predator), especially if they are going southbound,” he said, adding that the new sign will reduce confusion for motorists.

While he ultimately backed third reading, BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb wanted assurances the signs will be maintained and not modified.

“Who ensures this thing will be as it is?” he said.

Directors won’t consider final adoption of the bylaw until a maintenance agreement can be reached between NORD and Predator Ridge.

Municipal directors couldn’t vote on the issue but that didn’t stop them from wading into the debate.

“It’s a business the signs are identifying. The community it’s in is the City of Vernon. Let’s not fool ourselves,” said Spallumcheen director Will Hansma, adding that while the bylaw is specific to just this property, the change could set precedent for other off-premises signs.

“There are other businesses that have contributed time and dollars to the community and they may want a sign. Where do you draw the line?”

Wayne Lippert, Vernon director, defended the application from Predator Ridge.

“It is a community up there as well as a business,” he said.

“We have variances to bylaws and policies and they change all of the time. We set precedents when we approve variances and this amendment is site specific.”