Residents displaying ‘Slow Down’ signs in Brampton didn’t break bylaws, law firm says

Brampton city councillor Charmaine Williams says she always knew that residents who erected “Slow Down” signs on their front lawns weren’t violating any city bylaws — but she still got a legal expert to look into it.

“I’ve been saying from the beginning that these signs are legal,” she told CBC Toronto.

“And now that we have a legal opinion that says the signs are legal, residents are right, and the city is wrong for threatening to charge the residents.” Williams is now calling on the city to apologize to the residents.

The dispute started last August when Williams distributed 500 signs reminding drivers to slow down in school zones. But some residents who put up the signs got a visit from bylaw officers who told them they could face fines. In some cases, the signs were removed by city officials.

At that time, the city said its sign bylaw allowed only specific messaging about things like speed bumps, construction workers on the road or potential trip hazards.

Coun. Charmaine Williams says the signs have been very popular and the residents want to participate in community safety. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Williams hired Toronto law firm Aird & Berlis LLP to investigate the matter.

While it “has not reviewed every location placement … it is our opinion that the signs, in their current form, fall clearly and expressly within the Section 8(4) of the sign bylaw,” the firm’s report says.

For the children

Rozario Fernandes, who lives across the street from a school and proudly displays a “Slow Down” sign on his front lawn, believes the city should allow the signs.

“I’ve been living in Brampton since I immigrated so I wanted all the children here to be safe and secure. It’s a good cause, for sure,” he said.

Rozario Fernandes proudly displays the sign on his front lawn because he says he cares about the children in his neighbourhood. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Fernandes welcomes more residents putting up signs in his neighbourhood and says the city hasn’t said anything to him.

“It’s a good thing for the kids,” he said.

“In Brampton, people are very careless drivers.”

City responds

In addition to confirming that no fines were handed out for the signs, an emailed statement from the City of Brampton also says the “city will not comment upon any advice which may have been received by Councillor Williams in relation to the City’s Sign Bylaw.”

Williams says she plans to move a motion to have the city adopt the slow-down campaign, similar to other municipalities.

“Community safety can only happen when you involve the community,” she said.

“That’s why I will continue to support the community who want to participate in making the streets safer for the kids and seniors who use these roads to get to and from school to work and all around the city.”


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