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Hamilton prohibits overpass banners

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Large banners that have proved distracting to vehicles in the past along theLincoln Alexander Parkway are expected to be banned later this month.

Councillors at their May 22 public works committee agreed to approve a bylaw to amend the Highway Traffic Act prohibiting banners above or under a city bridge.

The bylaw was proposed by Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead soon after a series of protests by the Canadian Society for Bio-Ethical Reform last fall that draped large signs with graphic images over a number of overpasses including Upper Wentworth.

“There was an outcry from the community,” said Whitehead. “It’s about safety.”

The group’s message included a graphic photo of a 10-week-old fetus, along with the words “abortion kills children” on the banner. Residents complained about the banners. And in at least one instance an accident occurred near an overpass with the banner.

Mountain councillor Scott Duvall, who approved the motion, expressed the hope any fine will be significant to deter future protestors.

Duvall said “if it’s a slap on the wrist” then the bylaw would be useless.

The bylaw, which is expected to be enforced by the Hamilton Police Services, will prohibit flashing signs that interfere with the safe operation of a vehicle. The bylaw adds to the city’s unlawful sign provision that was approved to protect drivers. The bylaw does allow for approved banners by the municipality.

Politicians are scheduled to vote on the recommendation at their May 28 council meeting.

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