I’ve been interested in city politics since my early-teenage years. My grandparents were active political volunteers and got me involved in every type of election. Their choice of candidate is easy to deride in hindsight (I grew up in North York where Mel Lastman was highly regarded at the dinner table) but instead of watching another repeat of the Thundercats, I was helping them bang signs into supporters’ front lawns.
But it was the anti-postering bylaw the city proposed back in 2002 that kicked me into action. It just seemed wrong to ban posters for garage sales, lost dogs, indie rock bands, and ESL lessons while the city allowed the proliferation of massive corporate advertising. Somehow the idea got into some people’s head that a Room for Rent poster was a horrible blight on the urban landscape, but massive iPod ads covering entire subway stations was just a-okay.
The bylaw reached the floor of council twice in the last four years and has been sent back both times for review. We now know it is coming back, probably for the final time. On March 6th, at the Planning and Transportation Committee, councillors and city residents will be able to voice their opinions on the newest draft. The new by-law has been put together by Mayor Miller’s office and Spacing is happy to say we think this is the best solution put forward to date. There are a few small sticking points that can be worked out, but nothing that could be considered oppressive. Instead of banning posters on 99% of utility poles, residents can place posters on almost any pole, but there are size restrictions, as well as the number of posters attached to a pole. There are also requirements to take down posters errected, which is something new to the by-law but a compromise worth considering. I think this will deter the use of postering companies that do massive campaigns for big shots. Sprite, CBC’s DaVinci’s City Hall and numerous other ad campaigns bombard the city with their huge posters covering up anything local. They already have radio, newspapers, magazines and TV to push their stuff — let the little guys have some space, too!
The Toronto Public Space Committee has extensive analysis on the issue which you can read by going here.
If you wish to sign-up to make a deputation and tell council and committee members your thoughts, go to Committee Room #1, City Hall at 3:30pm on March 6th. Contact Betty Henderson at 416-392-8088 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name on the list or to send a letter to be considered by staff and committee members.