Street furniture winner announced

The winner of the street furniture contract was announced this morning — Astral Media.

While I found Astral’s designs to be the least offensive of the submissions, there still are some serious flaws that the City and the mayor’s powerful executive committee needs to sort out.

• The RFP that was issued in 2006 directed bidders to not go over the current level of advertising found on our streets. The square footage the bidders worked from (198,000 sq. feet) was only an estimation on the city’s part. But (and this is a big BUT), if you add up the actual numbers supplied in the back of the RFP, you’ll find that our current level of advertising on street furniture is only 178,000 sq. feet. That means there will be an 11% increase in ads, which flies in the face of city council’s directive (keeps ad content below current level), and contradicts City Hall’s mantra that the co-ordinated street furniture contract would decrease the amount of ad space by 14%. This means the RFP is seriously flawed and needs to be re-issued again. Read more on Torontoist and Eye Daily.

• Astral Media is in non-compliance with the city. The outdoor advertising company has numerous illegal signs, according to The city has a policy that states, “To protect the interests of the taxpayers of the City of Toronto by reserving the right to the City to reject an offer to supply goods and/or services through the City’s procurement processes where the City determines that the person making the offer is in any way indebted to the City and in its sole discretion is of the opinion that it is in the City’s best interests that the offer be rejected.” I cannot see how City Council or the executive committee can approve the winner of this RFP while Astral Media and the other bidders continue to flout the city’s bylaws and ignore requests to remove illegal billboards. If the executive committee rubber stamps the winner, then the city is saying it is okay to strike deals with scofflaws.

• One of the most common talking points during the street furniture debate has been the idea that this contract will help “clean up the clutter on our streets.” This is an absolute fabrication now that we see the submissions. If the city was serious about un-cluttering our streets, specific things could have been done, such as: combine the horrible monster garbage bin design into one side of a bus shelter, thus removing cans from the street; there is no great outcry for maps in the downtown core, yet they info pillars will proliferate from 25 (current level) to a minimum of 120. If we needed to put maps around downtown, we could easily find a home for them on our current pieces of infrastructure like those metallic traffic signal boxes — the city of Victoria, BC has done this successfully.

• In the Toronto Public Space Committee‘s media release today, the street furniture program completely contradicts the city’s climate change plans. The TPSC states: “Under this plan, every square foot of advertising currently on a garbage bin or bench would be transferred to a bus shelter or an “information pillar,” more than doubling the amount of illuminated, eye-level advertising that is perpendicular to the sidewalk and making a mockery of Toronto’s environmental ambitions. Shelters need illumination, but regular shelter lights (such as those used in shelters that don’t have advertising) can be powered with solar energy; when ads need to be illuminated, however, the only option is to hook the shelters up to the grid. With “street furniture coordination” Toronto had the opportunity to not only decrease advertising but also to conserve massive amounts of energy — but instead the City wants to double the power being used solely to light up ads. The new program proposes 4,652 more bus shelters ads’ worth of lighting!”

The TPSC,, and Spacing will be holding a joint-press conference later this week to discuss these matters further with members of the media in hopes that we can convince public officials and the mayor’s executive committee to consider these four points of contention. We also encourage members of the public to sign up to make a deputation (email ) to the executive committee on Monday April 30th.


  1. This entire process has been crazy. I look forward to the press conference — keep up the good work.

  2. I am especially intrigued by the newspaper box design. People will have to literally crawl to the ground to get a paper on the lower shelf.

  3. Yeah and I wonder WHICH newspapers will be on the bottom.

  4. By all means deupute to the Executive, but it will probably be a long drawn-out debate ending in a rubber stamp. Council is the place the fight will happen.

    There needs to be a concerted effort to pressure Councillors who are likely to be on the fence about this issue (or who may ethically oppose but feel reluctant to go against the Mayor), and to support those who’ve spoken out before. The former includes Perks, McConnell, Giambrone, and maybe Filion and Moscoe.

    The latter includes Fletcher, Davis, Mihevc, Vaughan, Stintz, and Minnan-Wong.

    Write your councillor and those councillors. Let them know this is a city-wide issue. This doesn’t have to devolve in to the typical voting blocs.

  5. there is no great outcry for maps in the downtown core

    Maybe the people who need them couldn’t find the place where they should complain.

  6. This reminds me of the Union station deal. Is there something fundamentally wrong at City Hall that this kind of stuff gets through?

  7. What’s wrong is that all of the staff who are good at their job and understand the way the City works get better offers from the private sector. Then they work the system for their new boss by manipulating the less competant bureaucrats.

    That’s actually the less skeptical perspective.

    Some would point to evidence gathered by that says Bob Millward essentially gave the key to the City to the private sector then jumped into his own practice where he took advantage of the rules he created. I’m sure this happens occasionally but not as often as the first scenario that I suggest.

  8. no clue how their garbage containers are seen as remotely functional when u have to step on the plate at the bottom to open it… do they not realize it does snow in toronto???

  9. Thanks for the info – I needed it for my homework

  10. i am a grade eight student and im loving the info pillar -one info side & three add sides..awsome?!

  11. I am furious with this idea. It is simply outragous to think that the city their own space, to some random advertising company. Its like brainwashing the minds of young children with the media’s garbage. Soon, our precious children will all become anorexic like the models on the ads. What has our world become?

    This article has been really helpful for my quest on completing my english assignment.

  12. I do not agree with the above poster. she MIGHT be right about a few of her ideals, but the overall effect will be entirely different. think about it, we torontonians do not have such a small will to be taken down by this ad stuff… although, I speak for myself.

  13. Have you noticed how weird the street furniture looks with the grey? There are waaaaay too many ads. And that the heck is the point of the public washrooms if only one person of each gender can be in there at once? The info pillars are stupid and no offense, but they’re ugly and pretty much useless. And have you people noticed that the newspaper bins are actually bigger than the garbage bins??? O_O”

  14. The poster idea really is worse, like the other three ideas above my letter. It’s like sending super hidden secret messages to your brain. For example, girls becoming models, boys smoke and geezers die for no entirely good reason for example. Anyway, my point is that ads are bad, worse than Astral Media. Is reality the way the world goes in?!

  15. All these new items look very ugly except the newspaper thing look great and better but it all look really ugly with all the ads but only fools will actually pay attention to ads prersonlay i dont think it really matter.we get 20 sumthing millon dollor so it sum what gud. XP

  16. i think that some of these design are messed up why does a garbage can even need a cap to block off the water when have we ever needed garbage to be dry. Besides, most of the stuff we put in there is wet anyways……
    What is the problem with the designers we dont need the the caps for the washroom cause were going INSIDE so whyyyyyy???!?!?!?!?!?
    i still dont understand!!!!

  17. Like the one above, I don’t agree with Jenny. This may be outrageous, but what can we do if we are break? Toronto is broke. If Toronto is broke, and we can do something about it, why not? Yes, our city can be bankrupt with our proud selves, but is that really the way we should go? We get a good 21 million per year and free street furniture for a price of a controlled ad system by some private company.

    I think some people are getting too sensitive about this. Do I agree that we should sell public space for ads? No. But if the only argument not to is that the ads will corrupt our minds, then, go on ahead. People will such weak minds deserve it.

  18. public washrooms are nasty especially when only one person of each gender can do their thing in only one washrooms. its like using a port-a-pottie :S

  19. the colours are grey , grey makes ur day go sooo gloomy they shuld make it HOT PINK its such a hot colour hints the name HOT pink

  20. i HATE the idea of public washrooms. its not helping the city, its more like destroying the city. WHY should we have public washrooms? what happens if someone takes a dump and it REALLLY stinks? of course the area around it stinks.

  21. and to the comment above mine,
    yea we’re all in a class, we’re supposed to comment 🙂

  22. i agree with jenny (:
    && all the new street furniture is all grey, and grey isn`t a very happy colour. i think that the new street furniture should be a different colour like green (: because green is a envirmental colour (:

    && public washrooms? public washrooms are going to be very dirty. people might use it in the start, but sooner or later, the washrooms are all going to be ugly dirty and smelly.

  23. yeahhs, i agree with breanna, i think that the washrooms should be green or something else. just not gray. gray is gloomy. and public washrooms aren’t even usefull enough, we can just run into a store and use theirs anytime.

  24. dude dont u think the hobos will stay in the washrooms as their shelter?

  25. Most people think it is just some advertisements in free space, but what will happen once all the trees get cut down to make more benches and stuff? This is contributing to global warming, and that is NOT a small issue. Once our weather starts getting warming, and there are more problems with our beloved Earth, our lifes will be affected too. So what is the point of money, when our life are being affected negatively?

  26. thats true. i agree with jenny. whats the point of money when our life`s are being affected negatively ?

  27. Man, you people don’t have style, do you? Grey? It’s called metallic silver… or in other words stainless steel. Its great. Do you really want to deploy ugly low grade yellow on some metal as our street furniture. That’ll look like !@#$ !!!

    Jenny, you should double check ur spelling. It’s lives, no lifes. (Sorry, off topic moderators, please don’t remove =)). BTW, we can’t stop global warming. It’s the americans that should do something. They have only 5% of the global population, but they use 30% of the global resources. Tell them to stop using our precious trees, and stop global warming, not us. You can save all the paper you want, and that won’t do anything. Act locally, help globally? Yeah right! Anyways, global warming can really easily be just a myth. It’s currently just a theory. Scientists SAY that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, that easily be false. There has been a global cooling after the 19th century. Before the 30s and after the new revolution, its started to warm. After the 30s and beofre the 80s, the earth has generally cooled and then it just warmed up again. It could be just a small trend. So, stop talking about global warming. I love the new furniture btw.

  28. Lol, Matthew, its called ‘Grave Digging’.

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