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City of Hamilton - Planning & Economic Development

Sign By-law

The City of Hamilton has a Sign By-law that regulates signs such as posters, portable/mobile, election and permanent signs that are placed on City or private property. The Sign By-law outlines the rules for the type, size, location etc. of signs that are permitted in Hamilton.

On September 22, 2009 staff presented to the Economic Development and Planning Committee the recommended changes to the sign by-law. The Committee directed staff to seek further consultation from the public at large. Please review the Staff Report.

What kinds of signs are not permitted?

  • Flashing or animated video screens (Note: there are exceptions for Electronic Message Displays)
  • Projecting sign except as permitted in the By-law
  • Roof signs

Are there certain locations where I cannot place a sign?
The following locations for signs that are prohibited include:

  • a Visibility Triangle
  • on a parked vehicle or trailer unrelated to its normal use as a vehicle
  • in a required parking space

Please note: signs on street furniture, bus shelters, etc. are not covered by the Sign By-law.

What is the process for requesting the placement of a sign?
You must fill out the neccessary application form for the type of sign you wish to place on private or City property. Application forms for the appropriate Sign Permits can be found here: Mobile Sign Application Form, New Home Development Sign Application, Other Portable Sign Application and Standard Sign Permit Application (same as Building Permit application form).

Do mobile sign companies need to be licensed?
Yes, in order to legally operate in Hamilton you must be licensed. You must apply for a Business or Establishment licence.

What if I want to ask for an exception to the Sign By-law?
If you would like to receive approval for an exception to the Sign By-law you need to fill out a Sign Variance Application form and submit a fee. You may be granted approval if you can prove that the general intent and purpose of the by-law can be maintained. Some of the criteria for granting exceptions include:

  • Special circumstances or conditions
  • Practical difficulties, hardship
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Whether sign will alter essential character of area where sign will be located

The decision regarding exceptions is made by staff and the Planning and Economic Development Committee. However, Council may uphold or vary any decision made by this Committee. For more information on requesting an exception you can review the sign variances section of the by-law (Part 6.0).