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Tourist Oriented Directional Sign Program

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is TODS?
  2. Why the TODS model – and why now?
  3. If the Provincial Government is already committed to a system based on the TODS model, why were consultations held?
  4. When were the consultations held? What if people were unable to attend?
  5. What is a "non-compliant" sign?
  6. Who is responsible for enforcement of the current regulations? Why hasn't government enforced the current rules? Why has it not removed signs that have not been approved under the Highway Sign Regulations?
  7. When will Government stop removing signs?
  8. Can I get my non-compliant sign back after government has removed it?
  9. Why are there signs still remaining on the highway that appear to be non-compliant?
  10. Why aren't all business permitted to advertise on highways? Why just tourism operators?
  11. Rural businesses are especially dependent on highway signage to bring visitors off the main highways. Won't this hurt them in particular?
  12. If you move signage off the highways, won't it just clutter municipalities instead?
  13. Can I get a TODS sign now? When will this new system come into effect?
  14. How much is this new system going to cost taxpayers?
  15. How will government compensate sign owners who have invested in highway signage?
  16. Isn't it true that there are fees charged for tourism operators to have a TODS sign?
  17. I've just opened a B&B and want to erect a sign under the current policy. Can I do that?
  18. Where can I get an application for a sign?

What is TODS?

Tourist-Oriented Directional Signage (TODS) is the most universally-accepted and widely-used approach for integrating public and private tourist services and attractions signage into the highway system.

Based on strategic positioning, universality and consistency, the approach makes it easier for travellers to locate tourist attractions and activities as well as essential services such as food, accommodations and gas.

TODS is the primary highway signage system used throughout Canada, the United States and most international jurisdictions.

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Why the TODS model – and why now?

Highway signage issues have been raised consistently by the traveling public for many years. When the current review was initiated, it became very clear, very quickly, that the present system is not working and that the status quo is not an option. A complete overhaul of the system is required.

Following research into signage systems which work effectively throughout Canada and the world, the TODS model clearly emerged as the best option.

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If the Provincial Government is already committed to a system based on the TODS model, why were consultations held?

The purpose of the consultation sessions was to provide information on TODS, and the results of highway signage research, to those most affected by any proposed changes - and to hear their input on how government could best move forward with implementation.

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When were the consultations held? What if people were unable to attend?

The sessions were held from April 22 to May 14, 2008 at 13 regional locations throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

A news release, backgrounder - and a copy of the presentation made at the sessions - can be viewed at the Tourist Oriented Directional Sign Program webpage. Information is also provided as to how to provide feedback.

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What is a "non-compliant" sign?

A non-compliant sign is any sign which does not meet the specifications outlined under the Highway Sign Regulations, which come under the Urban and Rural Planning Act (Municipal Affairs). They can be viewed at: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/regulations/rc990085.htm opens in new window

A non-compliant sign is any sign which has not been approved, and received a permit, under the current regulations, through the Department of Government Services.

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Who is responsible for enforcement of the current regulations? Why hasn't government enforced the current rules? Why has it not removed signs that have not been approved under the Highway Sign Regulations?

The Department of Government Services oversees the enforcement of the current regulations, in co-operation with the Department of Transportation and Works.

In reviewing the highway signage issue with our colleagues in Government Services and Transportation and Works, it became clear that increased enforcement of the current policy was not going to address all of the issues with highway signage. A totally new direction was needed.

It was agreed, however, that addressing the non-compliant signage on our highways was our first priority. In April of 2009 a news release was issued, and advertisements placed in province-wide publications and on radio stations to advise people who had erected non-compliant signs to remove them prior to June 8, 2009.

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When will Government stop removing signs?

Removal of non-compliant signs will be an ongoing process.

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Can I get my non-compliant sign back after government has removed it?

No. When the Department of Transportation and Works removes a sign, it will be disposed of in compliance with provincial laws.

Sign owners are encouraged to remove unapproved/non-compliant signs themselves – if they have not already done so - if they wish to retain them for some other approved use (e.g., on their premises).

Why are there signs still remaining on the highway that appear to be non-compliant?

Many circumstances determine if signs are non-compliant. As signs are identified as being non-compliant, they will be removed as time permits.

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Why aren't all business permitted to advertise on highways? Why just tourism operators?

Limiting highway signage to tourist-related services and attractions is standard around the world.

All motorists, but especially visitors, need directions for essential services such as fuel, food, and lodging.

Providing clear signage to regional attractions, historic sites and other tourism-related businesses is good for all businesses in a specific region.

Limiting signage minimizes highway clutter, which detracts from the natural beauty of the environment – an environment promoted in our tourism literature and appreciated by both residents and visitors alike.

Too many signs serve only to distract motorists and make all signage less effective.

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Rural businesses are especially dependent on highway signage to bring visitors off the main highways. Won't this hurt them in particular?

Rural-based tourism operators, like all operators, will still be able to provide direction to their business located off the highways. The difference would be that it would be in a consistent format that would work best for the travelling public – resident and tourist alike.

The existing policy was never intended to be, first and foremost, about advertising or promotion – but rather to direct motorists to a designated location. The province's highways are not intended to be a promotional or advertising corridor for businesses.

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If you move signage off the highways, won't it just clutter municipalities instead?

Municipalities are responsible for signage bylaws and policies within their own boundaries.

As part of this process, we have invited municipalities to tell us how we can best address the needs of all businesses within their jurisdictions

The Provincial Government is hoping municipalities will consider the benefits of the TODS model when reviewing their own signage bylaws.

Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador endorsed the TODS model at its fall 2008 convention.

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Can I get a TODS sign now? When will this new system come into effect?

Individuals can apply now to purchase a fingerboard, which is part of the TODS model, through the Department of Transportation and Works.

Meanwhile, an advisory group – composed of government and industry stakeholders – is providing recommendations for the development of new policy and regulations which considers feedback from industry and the public.

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How much is this new system going to cost taxpayers?

The exact cost to implement TODS will be determined after an implementation plan has been developed.

The real question might be – what will it cost (in terms of environmental clutter, dissatisfied travellers and frustrated visitors) if government does nothing?

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How will government compensate sign owners who have invested in highway signage?

The advisory group will discuss suggested options on how to implement a new system in a manner which is fair to those who have already made an investment in approved signage.

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Isn't it true that there are fees charged for tourism operators to have a TODS sign?

Yes. Again, there may be options to address the investment already made by those who have approved signage on the highways.

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I've just opened a B&B and want to erect a sign under the current policy. Can I do that?

Yes. The Department of Government Services, which handles the applications for new signage under the current highway signage regulations, is still approving signs which meet the current criteria.

Applicants are being advised, however, that there is the distinct probability that they will have to be removed in the future.

Applicants are asked to consider the TODS-based fingerboard sign as an option.

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Where can I get an application for a sign?

Applications are available at all Government Services Centres or on line at the following website http://www.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/licenses/highway/index.html.

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