Company turns down brightness of digital sign in Sydney
HALIFAX -- An electronic billboard on Grand Lake Road in Sydney, N.S., is capturing more than its fair share of attention these days. Residents in the area are complaining the light from it is so bright at night that they can't sleep.
“Oh, it's crazy bright,” says resident Erin Martell. “I had to put blackout curtains in my kids rooms because once it gets dark, it shines through their bedrooms and it keeps them up at night.”
“It can light up your whole living room,” says resident David Christie. “That's how bright it is.”
Currently, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does not have regulations in place concerning electronic signs; a change to the municipality's planning strategy and land use bylaw would be required to do so.
“They're going up without a permit, and at the present time they don't need a permit,” says CBRM councillor, Jim MacLeod. “The illumination is far too great for any household.”
MacLeod has asked the municipality's planning department to develop a new sign bylaw and regulations and says a workshop on the matter will be held in February and live-streamed online for the public.
“These people have to live with garbage bags over their windows because of the light,” says MacLeod. “They can't stand it.”
The company that owns the electronic sign hasn’t commented on the issue just yet; however, people who live in the area are happy something is being done to address their concerns.
“Maybe they can dim it down or face it the other way,” says resident, Annette Walters. “But then it would affect other people.”
On Tuesday morning, MacLeod said he heard from Pattison Outdoor Advertising, the company that operates the sign. They told him that the problem was with the settings on the board and that it has been rectified.
"The brightness issue has been resolved as it was as simple as adjusting some settings," said Sherry Kirwin, Pattison's Atlantic Region general manager. "We spoke with Jim MacLeod, CBRM councillor today and let him know that area residents should no longer be negatively affected by the nighttime brightness of this billboard."
MacLeod also notes digital signs are not the only issue plaguing the community and says mobile signs are proving to be distractions for drivers.
“There has to be control over them – we're a mobile sign city,” says MacLeod. “It's completely irresponsible, and there's no permit – nothing necessary.”
MacLeod says the company also offered to work with the municipality in any discussions involving bylaws for outdoor signage -- while also encouraging the municipality to have them in place.
Meanwhile, MacLeod says he plans to bring the issue to light in February at the next CBRM council meeting.