Bylaws leaning on Maple Ridge stores over signs

Jeweller would comply if other businesses treated same way

Gerry Brifett has been asked to remove a banner hanging from his Gold Rush Jewellers store on 224th Street in Maple Ridge.

Gerry Brifett has been asked to remove a banner hanging from his Gold Rush Jewellers store on 224th Street in Maple Ridge.

Gerry Briffett wants to follow the rules.

And if the District of Maple Ridge’s sign bylaw requires him to remove a banner hanging from his Gold Rush Jewellers store on 224th Street, he’ll do that.

But he wants to know why he’s being picked on and dozens of other businesses throughout Maple Ridge are allowed to keep theirs flying.

“Why should we take down our sign and nobody else has to take down their sign? That’s the issue.”

Briffett was told earlier this year by the bylaws department to remove the banner that runs above his store on 224th Street, next to the Tim Hortons.

He was told that all shops, restaurants, car lots and gas stations have to do so under the bylaw and was given only a day to comply or be fined.

But more than 30 other businesses in the downtown still have their signs up, and more than 100 along the highway, he pointed out in a March letter to Maple Ridge’s bylaws department.

A few weeks ago, Gold Rush put its banner back up – only to be told to take it down, which Briffett did. On the other hand, another store nearby had its sign up for more than a month.

Briffett wrote another letter in April to the Maple Ridge bylaws department, as well as councillors, saying only five businesses are being targeted for not complying with the sign bylaw.

But he has yet to receive a reply.

Briffet’s banner was up only four days a week, until 5 p.m., and he’s willing to work out a compromise.

“I’ve got no input from anybody,” he said.

A quick survey Wednesday found half a dozen banners that seemed to flout the bylaw, one even outside another jewelry store further west along the highway.

Ineke Boekhorst of the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association said the association is working with the bylaws department to come up with proposals for a new sign bylaw.

For instance, one clause now states that a store’s name cannot appear twice, that is on an awning and on a sign. “That’s exactly what we’re working on.”

“The bylaw has always been in place, it just has not been enforced to the letter. That’s a difficult thing if it hasn’t been enforced for some time.”

She’s noticed a reduction in the number of banners outside businesses and says the bylaw is being enforced throughout the district.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said the bylaw is being enforced throughout the district. The Haney Hotel and the Buffalo Club Bar and Grill both had to remove signs, he pointed out.

“My understanding is we’re working on them altogether. There are other folks that have been asked. All we’re doing is enforcing the bylaw that’s in place.”

But he said council was also expecting to hear back from the review of the sign bylaw, which also should look at rules around sidewalk sandwich boards.