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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Small, rural farmers rely on signs to sell produce, councillors say
Coun. Erwin Wiens, also a grape farmer, asked town staff to look the other way regarding the town's sign bylaw and rural farmers who use signs to promote their business.
Coun. Erwin Wiens, also a grape farmer, asked town staff to look the other way regarding the town's sign bylaw and rural farmers who use signs to promote their business. Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Wiens urges bylaw department to ‘look the other way’ and not remove signs

 

Niagara-on-the-Lake is blessed with many amenities, among them easy access to farm-fresh produce grown in the municipality.

And after The Lake Report highlighted the difficulties farmers can face attracting business while being subject to the town’s sign bylaw, some councillors have requested leniency.

Our June 30 story, “Signs of trouble: Town keeps removing farmer’s roadside ads,”  reported how Dave White of White Orchard Farms for years sign on the side of York Road to direct people to his business.

It was removed by town bylaw officers and White saw his business drop dramatically. White said a councillor had reached out to him regarding the issue and now some are speaking out.

“We do have a long history in Niagara-on-the-Lake of putting out a ‘You pick’ sign or, ‘Cherries this way,’ or ‘Peaches this way,’ ” Coun. Erwin Wiens said during a committee of the whole meeting.

“I’d like to see it continued.”

Wiens noted small farms that use signs aren’t doing it year-round.

“It is only a short period of time and that’s how the tender fruit industry has been working for years and still does.”

Wiens noted that, unlike larger operations, small tender fruit farms sell their produce privately and do not rely on large grocery chains for their income.

“They have to be sold on-site. And (by advertising with small roadside signs) that’s how people do it.”

Wiens suggested that town bylaw officers try to accommodate farmers.

“I’d respectfully request that we can look the other way in regards to that.”

Coun. Wendy Cheropita shared the sentiment.

“There’s a lot of farmers that rely on little signs in rural areas,” Cheropita told her fellow councillors.

“It really does help to direct people. I hear that from visitors and residents all the time,” she said.

Access to farm produce is a unique benefit of NOTL and should be supported, Cheropita said.

“I think we’re really lucky in this community to have access to farm-fresh products,” she said.

“So, if we can turn a blind eye or just help people to put signs in areas where they’re not going to be obstructing traffic or sight lines, I think that would be great.”