While the city moves to curb postering -- and freedom of radical expression in the process -- more of our public space is being offered up so advertisers can shape our desires. From mental stress to traffic accidents, the billboard takeover is becoming a hazard to our health.
EVERYWHERE A SIGN
Public spaces recently offered for advertising in T.O.: TVs in taxis, taxi hubcaps, rickshaws, on garbage bins
Public spaces being considered for future advertising: Bike racks, newspaper boxes
Other infringements on public space: Mobile billboards on trucks and cars; airplanes trailing banners; blimps; parachutes; cars, streetcars and buses wrapped in ads
WHO WINS, WHO LOSES
Number of advertising billboards in the city: More than 5,000 (not including several thousand street-level signs)
Kickback to the city: Zero (99 per cent of billboards are on private property)
Number of bus shelters with advertising: 3,500
Number of ads per bus shelter: As many as 4 (on a rotating basis every 30 to 40 seconds in newer shelters fitted with scrolling displays)
Kickback to the city from bus shelter advertising deal with Viacom: $4 million a year
Amount Viacom makes: About $25 million a year
Number of garbage bins with ads: 3,000
Number of ads per bin: As many as 3
Kickback to the city last year from garbage bin ad deal with OMG Media: $300,000
Amount it cost city to collect garbage from OMG bins last year: $1 million
Number of companies that control advertising in public space in Toronto: 4 (Pattison, Viacom, Astral Media, OMG Media)
Number of videoboards in Toronto five years ago: 1
Number of videoboards today: 10
Most intrusive videoboard according to public space advocates: At Spadina and Dundas
It's some three storeys high and can be seen flashing from hundreds of second-storey windows and rooftop patios.
SAFETY COMES SECOND
Worst stretch of billboard and videoboard advertising in the city: Along the Gardiner Expressway between Jameson and Sherbourne
Why it's a concern to public space advocates:
The collision rate on the stretch is twice that on the Don Valley Parkway.
What the City Cycling Committee has proposed to the planning, transportation and urban development departments:
Remove existing changeable-message signs
Study stricter standards for changeable-message signs along roadways
What the U.S. is doing
Banning videoboards on highways due to safety concerns
Number of American states that have banned billboards altogether : 4 (Maine, Vermont, Hawaii, Alaska)
Pattison pumps its outdoor space
"Outdoor advertising can't be switched off. It doesn't go out with the trash. It's at work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, delivering your message again and again and again. Research shows that affluent markets have the greatest exposure."
public space advocates speak
"We stop being citizens and become consumers when we're deluged by advertising."
What the city's proposed anti-postering bylaw will do:
Restrict all kinds of postering, including "Lost cat" and public meeting notices, to 2 per cent of all hydro poles
Restrict postering on hydro poles to one pole every 100 metresSpace invaders