British Columbia

Strawberry farmer represents himself in court, wins fight against $1,000 fine over 41-year-old sign

A Richmond strawberry farmer says he’s won a court battle against the city over a seasonal sign to advertise fruit sales which had resulted in a $1,000 bylaw fine.

Bill Zylmans represented himself in court in successful fight against $1,000 fine over decades-old sign

'This is huge for agriculture. This is huge for the strawberry industry, to be treated how we were treated in this case ... agriculture is our heritage," said Bill Zylmans of W & A Farms in Richmond. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

A Richmond strawberry farmer says he is "quite happy" after winning a court battle over a seasonal sign which city bylaw officers considered to be a safety hazard.

Bill Zylmans said he stood up for himself after he was fined $1,000 during the summer for the large sign that he attached to a trailer parked at the corner of Knight Street and Westminster Highway to guide customers to his berry patch further east on the highway.

City officials were concerned the sign might distract drivers and cause a collision and that it was parked up against crash barriers thereby obstructing them, but the judge threw out the hefty bylaw fine.

"That sign has been up there for 41 years," said Zylmans.

Bill Zylmans with W & A Farms in Richmond was forced to move this sign from Knight Street and Westminster Highway after officials determined it contravened local bylaws. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Zylmans who has been farming for half a century said even though he had never been to court before that he represented himself during a hearing involving the City of Richmond and questioned details about the alleged violation.

"The bylaw officer gave his testimony and then in my cross examination, it became apparent that his testimony was not very well prepared," said Zylmans.

City of Richmond spokesperson Clay Adams said the judge ruled in Zylmans' favour after a bylaw officer could not provide details about where the sign was located.

"It was not clear to the bylaw officer during the hearing that in fact it [the sign] was on city property definitively or municipal property and that, we seemed to understand, cast some question marks around the other details in the eyes of the people making the decision."

Adams said the city does not plan to appeal the ruling at this time.


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