Amendments proposed by Councillor Norm Kelly on Tuesday pose a real danger to the Beautifulcity.ca initiative. Councillor Adam Vaughan pointed out (to inappropriate and thoroughly scolded applause) that the amendments amounted to cutting the proposed tax in half while more than doubling the number of billboards allowed and increasing their size.
Whether or not these amendments will become reality has a lot to do with if middle-of-the-road councillors feel the public pressure to accept the bylaw as the city’s own non-partisan staff has recommended, or whether this is something they can float under the radar on and side with the lobbyists by passing it with shady amendments.
If you show up in at City Hall tomorrow that becomes less likely. It is an election year after all…
The measure was unanimously approved by the City of Toronto’s planning committee and will be put to City Council today. 70% support the tax, while 14% are opposed. The poll also concluded that Torontonians would be far less likely to support the measure if the tax revenue was not tied directly to arts.
City councillors that vote against this measure will now find themselves in the awkward position of rejecting the unanimous advice of the city’s own experts and the vast majority of Torontonians.
Poll based on 709 interviews with Torontonians from a broader survey of 1,202 GTA residents using EKOS’ innovative Probit telephone-online panel conducted between November 23rd and 29th, 2009. The results of the poll are valid within +/-3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Beautifulcity.ca‘s tax on billboards to fund art is finally coming to a vote at City Council. This proposed new sign by-law may offer the single greatest opportunity to increase municipal arts funding in the next decade.
The premise of the campaign is that billboard advertising, unlike all other forms of advertising, provides no content to the public in exchange for taking up public space (editorial to advertising ratios for TV is 75/25, for print is usually 50/50 but for billboards is 0 to 100).
The sign by-law going before city council on November 30/December 1 recommends regulating billboards in Toronto, removing illegal billboards as well as taxing and properly regulating the remainder.
The tax will help to create ‘editorial’ by increasing the city’s arts funding and ensuring greater public access to art in exchange for use of public space.
“Advertising is increasingly infringing on our public spaces, and the privilege of leveraging public space for commercial ends should come with a responsibility to keep them healthy. The billboard tax is a fair and just means for private advertisers to take responsibility for their impact on the city.”
“After the years and years of weaker and waterier imitations, we now find ourselves rejecting the very notion of a holy stage. It is not the fault of the holy that it has become a middle-class weapon to keep the children good.”