On the rocks: dispute over unique ad ploy intensifies in Qualicum Beach

By Ian Holmes
July 25, 2017 - 3:39pm Updated: July 25, 2017 - 7:47pm

A rock like this is at the centre of a controversy in Qualicum Beach.Colleen Christensen

QUALICUM BEACH — A Qualicum Beach business owner has found herself stuck between a rock and a bylaw.

                    Colleen Christensen, owner of Ruff N' Stuff Dog Grooming, is fighting three rarely issued municipal sign bylaw tickets for placing promotional rocks throughout the community offering discounts for her services.

She disagrees with the Town's assessment her promotional rocks pose a public safety threat since they are hidden around town in places like dog parks and bushes.

“If anything we've made them safer because people can now actually see them and they're off the ground,” Christensen said.

She said she has no plans to stop placing the tennis ball-sized rocks around the community. The idea was spawned by her dog's habit of collecting rocks and bringing them back to her store.

Christensen noted she has received widespread support on social media and in her store.

“That's one of the number one comments we get when people come in to our store...is that it was refreshing, it caught their eye right away, it was something neat.”

The Town also said the brightly-painted rocks are considered illegal off-site business signage, which Christensen said shouldn't matter because off-site advertising is common in Qualicum Beach.

The Town's director of planning Luke Sales said Qualicum Beach doesn't allow off-site business signage, such as flyers or garage sale notices, since they all violate sign bylaws. He said their staff inform property owners when their sign rules aren't followed, which typically resolves the matter.

He said Christensen's colourful rocks present a public safety hazard, since they have ended up on sidewalks and walking trails.

“We're really cautious because of our demographic and just looking out for residents safety overall,” Sales said. “When something is a trip hazard we take it very seriously and these rocks are potentially a serious hazard.”

Sales said the Town has received public complaints about the rocks and won't issue permits for them.

Christensen has allegedly taken a confrontational approach in the matter, Sales said, and it appears the issue will be solved elsewhere.

“Both the town and the business owner would make their cases at the courthouse in Nanaimo and a judge would decide how this would be resolved,” Sales said.

Christensen has officially disputed the three signage bylaw tickets she has received since early June.

Those tickets each come with a $100 fine.


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