Nova Scotia

CBRM may cut down on signs that are 'popping up like dandelions'

Cape Breton regional councillor Jim MacLeod says advertising signs are cropping up like weeds, and he wants them cut down.

Cape Breton councillors take aim at large roadside advertising signs and smaller ones tacked onto poles

Cape Breton Regional Municipality staff say CBRM has rules against signs on public property and on utility poles, but they are only enforced when it's a traffic concern. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

A Cape Breton regional councillor says advertising signs are "popping up like dandelions."

Now, Nova Scotia's second-largest municipality has taken a step toward weeding them out.

Coun. Jim MacLeod says large, black mobile signs with neon lettering are getting out of hand on public property.

He also said smaller ones tacked onto utility poles are a growing problem.

"The utility poles are not the Yellow Pages, and this is what it has come to be when you have four, five, six, seven signs on the utility pole," MacLeod told CBRM's general committee on Tuesday.

CBRM councillors heard the municipality can enforce regulations against signs on poles, with permission of the utilities. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Staff say the municipality already has rules against having signs on public property and on utility poles.

Coun. Earlene MacMullin said it's the municipality's fault the signs have multiplied.

"Shame on us, there has been no ongoing active enforcement of this, unless it becomes a traffic issue," she said.

Planning director Michael Ruus offered recommendations that included enforcing regulations against signs on poles, with permission of the utilities.

Help from existing bylaw

He also said the streets bylaw can be enforced to remove signs on public property.

Ruus also recommended a new bylaw be drafted with input from sign companies to consider regulations on where signs can be placed, and to add licensing and fees.

Councillors agreed the signs should be removed from poles, with the consent of utility companies, but they stopped short of forcing roadside signs to be moved onto private property.

'Don't eliminate, just regulate'

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger said local sign companies employ people and add to the economy.

He said they also make advertising affordable for small businesses.

Coun. Steve Gillespie said the municipality doesn't have to eliminate the signs altogether.

Coun. Darren Bruckschwaiger says firefighters and management have to be "rowing the same direction" and a new fire chief will help with that. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

"It's just a matter of regulating what we have," he said.

"We do not need to eliminate. All we need to do is regulate, but because we weren't regulating, it's been a free-for-all."

Bruckschwaiger said that's difficult, though, without adding more staff.

Ruus said new fees for licences may be able to offset some of the costs of enforcement.

The matter has to come back to a regular council meeting to be ratified before any action is taken.



Tom Ayers


Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 36 years. He has spent half of them covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at


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