Portage businesses take issue with City 0
Aron Wiebe stands outside of his Sears store in Portage la Prairie near a sandwich board sign, which violate the City of Portage's zoning bylaw. The sign has to be removed by Aug. 9, much to the chargin of Wiebe. (Jordan Maxwell/Portage Daily Graphic/QMI Agency)
Local business owners in Portage are speaking out against the City after receiving a letter asking them to remove their sandwich board signs off of public property for violating zoning bylaw rules.
Aron Wiebe, owner of Sears in Portage, received a letter from the City Manager, stating that his signs violated rules - which requires a sign to be .75m in width and 1.2m in height - and if it wasn't removed by Aug. 9 the sign would be confiscated.
"We received a letter from the City Planning District saying that the limitations to the sizing of boards had to be a specific width and height. Ours were not in that standard. It was a unknown that was brought to our attention without any forewarning," said Wiebe.
As a new business owner, Wiebe has been trying to promote his store in many ways to gather interest of the community. But he said the alarming manner in which the letter was delivered rubbed him the wrong way as he questioned the City's approach to handling the situation.
"I'm new to doing business in Portage and we're just starting up, trying to get our business out there on the street. We want to work with the City of Portage but this seems silly. We're utilizing signs that are being professionally done and managed by a local company (Magnet Signs) that are coming out and doing nice graphics," he said.
"It seems to be cutting the hairs fine in a sense. I do respect that the City needs to maintain a standard across the board but it seems to me that it's another deterrent to doing business in the town of Portage.
"It would've been nice if the City Planning District came door-to-door to introduce themselves and say hey, this is what we're proposing. Something like that would've been a nicer gesture then sending out just a general letter," he added.
According to Dale Lyle, city manager in Portage la Prairie, up to 15 businesses in Portage received a letter asking them to kindly remove the signs from public property because of the size violations.
Another one of those businesses included One Stop Fashions, whose owner, Shannon Bond, was also upset with the way the City handled the situation. She's been a business owner in Portage for two months.
"How are people supposed to find you? As a new business, we have to use every type of media you can, whether it's newspaper or social media," she said.
"I mean, come on; get over it. They want Portage to grow and we're trying to grow it for them, but how can we keep our dollar in town if people don't know where we are or who we are. It's a nice sign; it's not like it's some kindergarten scribble.
"It's not fair at all. They was no consultation with any of the retailers. We have a council that's supposed to be all about Portage. Well then, get out there and be like Portage. I don't see a lot of them around town and shopping locally either."
See more of the story in Monday July 31st issue of the Portage Daily Graphic.
Do you agree with the City's decision and the zoning bylaw?
Yes, should have read the rules
No, the bylaw sucks and hurts local business