More on the Proposed Toronto By-law

Gail Chiasson, North American Editor

We were curious about two things related to Toronto’s proposed out-of-home advertising bylaw that the Out-of-Home Marketing Association of Canada says is being pushed forward without consultation with the OOH industry. (See our Oct. 29/09 articles.)

We know that 20% of the proposed $10.4 million tax that the city of Toronto wants to put on the OOH players is to go for administration and enforcement of the by-law. We asked Ted Van Vliet, project coordinator of the Sign By-law Building Official, what were the plans for the other 80%.

“The proceeds of the tax are proposed to be for funding the enforcement and administration of the sign by-law, and to raise revenues for city beautification and arts and culture initiatives,” says Van Vliet. “This was a council direction from October, 2007. So with enforcement requiring 20% (+/-) of the revenues from the tax, the remainder could be allocated to city beautification, and arts and culture initiatives. The final allocation, however, will depend on Toronto City Council’s directions and decisions.”

We also wondered why digital billboards would not be allowed on two major highways going through or crossing above the city: the 401 and the toll road (the 407).

Van Vliet says the requirement for billboards and other signs to be separated from the highways is based on a Ministry of Transportation Ontario regulation/policy requiring signs to not be located within a prescribed distance of certain highways.

“We have simply incorporated this regulation/policy into our by-law for certain highways in Toronto,” says Van Vliet, who says that he isn’t sure of the reasoning behind the regulation, but expects that it has to do with concerns over driver distraction and road safety.

“With respect to the toll road (highway 407), it isn’t in Toronto so our by-law would not have any impact on it,” he says, although that highway is likely also subject to the MTO regulation or policy as well.

The draft by-law will be presented to Toronto’s Planning and Growth Committee at a meeting scheduled for Nov. 4. Should it be agreed upon by that group, it will go to the Toronto City Council at the beginning of December. OMAC has asked for a deferment.

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