Doug Swinton spent $10,000 on a mural for the windows of his store on Fisher Street S.E. ((Swinton's Art Supplies))

The owner of a Calgary art supplies store has started a petition after the city asked him to remove a mural from his windows.

Doug Swinton spent $10,000 on the window art, which is made up of replicas of several well-known artworks, including a classic scene from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. The mural was put on the windows of his store on Fisher Street S.E. using the same material that wraps advertising around buses and still allows people to look outside.

He said he didn't know the city had rules about window art.

"A week later, I got the city coming saying, 'Nope, take it down. We can't have that'," he said. "The signage act says you can't cover more than 30 per cent of the window with signage."

He has since applied twice for a permit – at a cost of $750 each time – and has been rejected both times. On Thursday, the city offered to refund one of those permit fees and hold off on fining him until he can apply again for a permit in October, Swinton said.

"They have extended their hand and said, 'Let's try again and see what we can do here'," Swinton said. "They aren't putting their foot down and saying no for sure; however, they haven't said yes either."

Petition circulating

Swinton is now asking his customers to sign a petition to allow him to keep the mural.

"It sounds a little bizarre if the C-Train and the buses are allowed to be wrapped in it, but you can't wrap the front of a store in it," said Julie Hamilton, who signed the petition.

Jennifer Green, a spokeswoman for the city, said in an email to CBC News on Wednesday that signs must not exceed the lesser of 2.5 square metres or 30 per cent of a window area.

"In addition, we do want to stress that the onus is on the owner to know what the rules are prior to hiring contractors for work," Green wrote. "Simply put, the mural is larger than what the bylaw requires and was painted onto the windows prior to receiving (and applying for) a permit for it."

The development and building approval department has been trying to clarify the bylaw and its restriction to the store owner, she said.