Remove flag or pay fine: White Rock restaurant given ultimatum
It's not unusual to see businesses put out signs, flags and banners to attract customers to their doorsteps, but staff at a local Mexican restaurant recently learned it's against bylaw to have more than one such sign.
On Monday morning, a bylaw officer visited Primo's Mexican Grill on Marine Drive in White Rock to enforce that rule after receiving a complaint.
"We were told that if we don't remove the flag, we would receive a fine," said Samantha McQuade, the restaurant's general manager.
McQuade said she couldn't believe that was a bylaw and wanted to investigate further.
She went to city hall and learned the officer was referring Bylaw No. 1923, which says in part that "a sign permit is not required for a commemorative plaque, cornerstone or patriotic flag."
The GM questions if the officer and staff are interpreting the bylaw correctly, because it doesn't specifically say more than one plaque, cornerstone or flag isn’t allowed.
"This seems like such a trivial thing to be concerned about when there are so many things happening in White Rock that warrant more attention," she said.
Primo's started flying the two Mexican flags about six months ago, when a nearby hedge from a vacant restaurant had overgrown. McQuade said the intention was to let customers know their doors are still open.
"We have to do whatever we can to attract people to our neck of the woods."
She said many businesses along Marine Drive have been struggling since construction started nearby more than a year ago, resulting in limited parking spots.
"I was concerned because we are struggling down here already. It is difficult for businesses. People don’t know we're here," McQuade said.
The city has recently started a Marine Drive Task Force, which will advise city council on viability issues and strategies.
"We're hoping the Marine Drive Task Force will take a broad look at the bylaws that are impacting Marine Drive, really look to modernize them and make them more flexible and responsive to businesses," said White Rock Business Improvement Association executive director Alex Nixon.
McQuade said she's seen several businesses with more than one flag but wouldn't like to think that their restaurant is being discriminated against.
"I would really hope that in White Rock that would not be what is happening, somebody targeting us because we're a Mexican restaurant or because of the ownership," she said.
CTV News has sent multiple requests for an interview to the mayor or a spokesperson from City of White Rock. The requests have not been returned.