Public space activist Dave Meslin wrote an interesting article in NOW magazine this week about the issue of taxing advertising billboards.
The article was prompted by the recent City of Toronto Act, which enables the city to levy such a tax, and a proposal known as the “Beautiful City Billboard Tax,” which advocates charging an annual fee for billboards and channelling the money to local arts projects through the Toronto Arts Council.
Meslin argues that it is premature to implement such a tax as, in the City’s current cash-strapped state, it would be an incentive to increase the number of billboards in order to generate revenue. He argues that, first, the city needs to implement a series of measures to better control billboards, including a yearly licencing system that allows for revocation.
I’m inclined to agree with Meslin, but others at Spacing are more sympathetic to the Beautiful City Billboard Tax proposal, suggesting that the potential revenue is too marginal to be a real incentive to increase the number of billboards. I’d be interested to hear what our readers think.
photo by Kevin Steele