The city of Thunder Bay is preparing to take action against mobile commercial signs alongside city streets — 80 per cent of which the bylaw enforcement office says are illegal.

Thunder Bay bylaw enforcement manager Ron Bourret said there's really no good reason for companies to erect illegal signs on city property, as the cost of getting a permit to put one up is just $20.

And yet, unauthorized signs are a persistent problem in the city. 

"As you can see, if any one takes the time to look, you'll see them at intersections, which is illegal," he said.

"It blocks the line of sight."

Bourret says up until now the city's enforcement of the sign bylaw has been "complaint driven," but now his office is looking at a more proactive approach.

"Under the new sign bylaw, which is now at our legal services for review, we are hoping to get resources to help us enforce that bylaw," he said.

Hike in fees

Bourett said those resources would include a part-time sign enforcement person —someone who would patrol the streets looking for illegal signs.

But to pay for that job, permit fees would have to go up significantly from what Bourret calls the lowest fees in North America. Most cities charge about $200.

"The sign by-law is somewhat antiquated, and we are reviewing all our short-form warnings for all those offences to hike the fines," he said.

Bourret noted the city has "met with sign companies and explained to them the rules and unfortunately that's not resulted in the law being followed."

Without the staff to enforce the bylaw, "the companies … erecting these signs are not coming in to get permits," he said.

"These [illegal signs] cannot be located where they are and are dangerous or hazardous. Cement cinderblocks just don't cut it to hold them down."