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Signs FAQ


Building Department

Town of Essex
2610 County Road 12
Essex, Ontario N8M 2X6
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T. 519-776-6476
F. 519-776-7171
Email the Building Department

This FAQ provides the answers to common questions related to erecting and posting signs in the Town of Essex.

Where does Council authority to pass a sign by-law stem from?

Council is authorized under Section 11(4) of the Municipal Act, 2001 to prohibit or to regulate signs, other advertising devices and the posting of notices. By-law 1350 regulates the location, size, number, construction, alteration, repair, maintenance and replacement of all exterior signs and other advertising devices, temporary or permanent, on all lands, buildings and other structures within the Town of Essex.

When is a sign permit required?

With the exception of specific types of signage, a permit is required before any sign is erected, displayed, altered or repaired.

Where can I obtain a sign permit?

A permit for a sign, if not prohibited under Section 3 of the Sign By-law, can be obtained from the Town of Essex Building Department, located at 2610 County Road 12. The Building Department can also be reached at 519-776-6476.

What does a sign permit cost and are additional materials required?

The fee for a sign permit is $100 plus a $500 indemnity deposit. For larger projects, such as commercial pole signs, a $10 charge per $1,000 cost may also apply. The Town will require two sets of drawings and specifications for the sign, a plan to scale showing the location of the sign on the property, building or other structure, and, if requested by the By-Law Enforcement Officer, structural drawings that have been stamped by a Registered Professional Engineer.

The fee for a temporary sign permit is $25. A temporary sign permit will be valid for up to 30 days, after which time the sign must be removed from the property or a new temporary sign permit is acquired. Not more than 4 permits will be issued to the same business per calendar year and there is a limit on the number of temporary signs permitted on the same property at the same time.

Find the temporary sign permit application form online at the following link: Temporary Sign Permit Application Form.

Are there signs that do not require a sign permit?

Yes. Section 5 of the Sign By-law provides a list of signs exempt from a permit but still subject to specific regulations. Election signs, historical interest plaques, home occupation signs, yard sale signs and special event signs are included on the list of signs exempt from a permit.

Are signs permitted in all zoning districts?

It is important to note that the regulations governing signs vary with the zoning district in which the property is located. Please refer to the following sections of By-law 1350 for information regarding permitted signs in their respective districts:

  • Some signs are permitted in all zoning districts. Refer to Section 5.
  • For signs specifically permitted in Residential Districts, refer to Section 6.
  • For signs specifically permitted in Commercial Districts, refer to Section 7.
  • For signs specifically permitted in Institutional and Manufacturing Districts, refer to Section 8.
  • For signs specifically permitted in Agricultural Districts, refer to Section 9.
  • For signs specifically permitted in Green, Landfill, Natural Environment and Wetland Districts, refer to Section 10.

Does the by-law prohibit certain signs?

Yes. A list of prohibited signs can be found in Section 3 of By-law 1350. Among other things, it includes flashing signs, illuminated portable signs, and roof signs.

In addition, Section 4 of the by-law prohibits any sign, whether temporary or permanent in nature, from being placed within a public right-of-way without express permission.

Can I place a small sign on a utility pole or road sign directing people to my yard sale?

No. You cannot place signs on a public right-of-way, including trees, public utility poles, street lights, road signs or similar structures. Section 1.5 of the Sign By-law also prohibits securing small signs to the ground on a public right-of-way.

Please Note: Signs placed on a public right-of-way may be removed without notice.

What if my sign does not meet the applicable requirements?

By-law 1350 allows Council to consider and approve a sign that does not meet the applicable requirements, either through site plan control approval or by application by the proponent for a modification or exemption.

What offences and penalties are associated with violating By-law 1350?

If your sign violates the by-law provisions, you may be ordered to remove the sign. Failure to comply with the order may result in a fine and the payment of legal costs upon conviction. By-law Enforcement Officers are responsible for enforcing By-law 1350. For further information regarding offences, penalties and enforcement, please refer to Sections 1.4 and 1.5 of By-law 1350.

What happens to impounded signs?

If made of durable materials, signs will be removed to the By-law Enforcement Office. Sign owners will be notified, if the owner is known or clearly identified on the sign, and will have 45 days to recover the sign. Signs will be released to the owner upon payment of an impoundment charge of $150 plus costs. If not recovered within 45 days, the By-law Enforcement Officer may permanently dispose of the sign without further notification.

Where can I find further information on the Sign By-law?

If you have questions about sign permits or impounded signs, please contact the Building Department at 519-776-6476.