No Substantial Drop In City Revenue Foreseen

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

The Project Team Leader on Toronto’s proposed by-law on out-of-home advertising doesn’t foresee any major drop in city revenue as a result of the proposed new bylaw on outdoor advertising.

Ann Borooah, chief building official for the City of Toronto and head of the Project Team discussed with us the concerns of the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada about the new outdoor sign proposed by-law report that the Project Team will be presenting to the Planning & Growth Committee of the City of Toronto on Nov. 4/09.

If agreed upon by the Planning and Growth Committee, this report – which has been signed off by the City of Toronto Chief Financial Officer – will go to the Toronto City Council meeting Dec. 1 and 2 for final passage.

“I wouldn’t agree that there’s been no consultation,”
says Borooah. “We’ve had 15 specific meetings over more than a year including eight advertised public meetings which I’m sure stakeholders and representatives attended. We’ve also had one-to-one meetings with individual sign companies.” (To date, we’ve been unable to locate anyone who had these one-to-one meetings regarding the by-law proposals. Ed.)

“It’s true that the proposed tax is higher than what was proposed in the Hemson Report, which I believe was around $3.4 million, but that was based on other things,” says Borooah. Asked about a research study supposedly undertaken by the city, she says, “We’ve had an economist working with us through the whole process to develop this Report.”

Borooah says that she doesn’t believe that here would be a major impact on the out-of-home industry “nor a substantial drop in city revenues” as a result of the tax.

The Project Team took into consideration the types of signs, taxes that have been levied in other jurisdictions, as well as association revenues in compiling recommendations in the Report, she says.

The Report includes many other points besides the proposed tax, including the fact that digital boards will be allowed only in two districts: The Gardiner Expressway and the Yonge-Dundas area, both of which are already heavy with signage.

The Report does leave it open that other sites could perhaps be considered on a case-by-case basis,” says Borooah.

That will little solace to companies like Astral Media Outdoor who hoped to erect about 10 of its spectacular digital billboards in and around Toronto but to date have only been able to erect three.

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