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King Twp.'s offer to sweeten advertising sign rules leaves sour taste in beekeeper's mouth
July 10, 2014
Tim Kelly

The effort of King Township to sweeten an offer to Nobleton’s Pioneer Honey owner Andre Flys over his failed sign initiative has left the local resident with a sour taste in his mouth.

Flys put up a directional sign to his shop on private property with the owner’s permission about a month ago.

He was forced to remove the homemade sign that he said cost him about $750 after a complaint was made that it did not conform to the township’s 2013 sign bylaw.

After refusing to pay $500 for a sign permit application and asking that the fee be waived, Flys took the sign down.

However, he has since replaced it with five beehives that are painted yellow.

Each hive has a letter on it that together spell the word B-U-Z-Z. A fifth hive has a directional arrow on it to help potential customers find the business in a rural part of the township.

Flys calls the replacement hives an art installation and not a sign.

The installation has been up for about a week and, as of Tuesday, had not been removed by the township.

A report introduced Monday at the township’s committee of the whole meeting suggested that an agri-business wayfinding signage program could be developed to assist with promoting agricultural businesses.

This would be a first step to the development of a broader tourism wayfinding signage program.

But Flys was unimpressed.

The report might lead to a sign that would point Nobleton visitors toward Pioneer Honey and other farm businesses, but Flys doesn’t see the point when he believes he already had a better solution in mind.

"All they’re (council and staff) doing is duplicating what the Region of York already offers. Why can’t I, as a farmer, come to you and give you my idea without having to pay you $500? It doesn’t cost the taxpayer anything, it doesn’t cost any staff resources or time. It’s a simple amendment to the bylaw. You exclude people who hold an FBR (Farm Business Registration) number for a variance.

“I want them (council) to open the bylaw up again and treat farms differently. When I got a building here, I didn’t pay development fees because I got a farm. When you look into the bylaw, we (farmers) do get different treatment. I don’t see why this should be any different,” said Flys.

And he went further in his criticism of council.

“Quite frankly, they’re being lazy. They don’t want to open this bylaw up. They say, ‘You weren’t there’ (for public consultations).

“I’m tired of this. Well, I found the problem. Are you going to do your job or are you going to keep giving us excuses. In my opinion, that’s just what it is. I’ve upset not just Peter (Grandilli), but all of council now and they’re not going to do anything to help me.”

Flys has battled with Nobleton Councillor Peter Grandilli on the issue after a complaint was raised about a sign on Grandilli’s Grandview TV business not being in compliance with the sign bylaw.

And Grandilli has been outspoken in saying at council and in interviews that no exceptions should be made to the sign bylaw for farmers.

Still, Councillor Avia Eek, who represents north King Township and is a farmer herself, has worked with staff on a compromise solution and said she had spoken to Flys.

“He was also told to keep the signage and put it in an A-Frame. I explained to him that we had extensive opportunities for people to come forward when we were creating the sign bylaw. Nobody came forward and now you’ve brought this up and I’ve brought it to council’s attention and staff’s attention,” she said.

“After I brought it up, I had a meeting with staff and we decided if there was some way we could accommodate third-party agri-business signs. And that’s why this report is on the agenda, because that’s part of our tourism. We can do the wayfinding signs,” she said.

The report is expected to come back before council either in the fall or early in 2015.

By then, however, Flys expects he’ll have a new regional directional sign in place and dismisses any township solution as too little, too late.

“They (councillors) see the election coming up and they want to make it seem like they’re doing something about it, but I can’t see it being any different from what the Region is already offering,” he said.

“I’ll have a regional sign by the time they come back with anything. That sign I put up at the corner didn’t cost the taxpayers a penny. It didn’t cost anybody anything. It brought people into the community to spend money.”

Flys told council in the short time it was located near the 15th sideroad about a dozen people came to his location as a result of the sign.