If Toronto needed some direction on how to deal with obstructive info pillars on sidewalks, the city needs only to look to Vancouver.
While I personally think the info pillars in Toronto are a useless piece of street furniture and would rather see them sent to the recycling depot, I think these examples in Vancouver show how to deal properly with demanding outdoor advertisers.
In Toronto, the pillars are at a 90-degree angle to the curb. In Vancouver, they are installed either flush with the curb or at a 45-degree angle. For the pillars flush to the curb, one side of the ad faces out onto the street — this might miff an advertiser but the size of the ad can be easily seen from across the street or by drivers. For the pillar at 45-degrees, the ad can still be seen by approaching pedestrians (see photo below).
More importantly, the map of Downtown Vancouver (top photo) that is displayed on the pillar is not hidden on the “spine” as it is in Toronto. It’s large, shows a sizable section of the city’s core, and doesn’t require any energy usage (Toronto’s maps are back-lit).
If Astral Media (providers of the street furniture) wants residents to value their infrastructure investment they need to make sure it serves pedestrians by providing more than just an obstacle on the sidewalk.